Finland: Schools to close, rail network to shut down in austerity protest

Finnish public transport

Finnish teachers are set to join the biggest labour movement demonstration in decades on Friday, shutting down schools and daycare centres across the country as they protest in Helsinki against government austerity measures.

The country’s rail network will also stop for the demonstration, along with dozens of other industries.

Schools across the country will be closed on Friday as teachers demonstrate in protest of planned government cuts. The country’s rail network will also shut down, after the Locomotive Drivers Union’s board voted on Sunday to join a broad-based walkout against government austerity and pay cuts.

Finland’s labour movement has been up in arms about plans to cut Sunday bonuses, overtime pay, sick pay, public sector workers’ holidays and to move two bank holidays to the weekend. Now the train drivers’ union has announced plans to join a protest planned for next Friday, shutting down rail transport for the day so members can attend the Helsinki demonstration.

Meanwhile teachers in schools and daycare centres will also head to Helsinki for the protest, after the teachers’ union the OAJ announced it would join in. In practice this will mean that many of the country's educational establishments will be shut down for the day. Matriculation exams, however, will continue as normal, despite the disruption.

Luukkainen expects all of Finland's teachers with permanent posts to take part in the demonstration, even though the law forbids them from participating in political labour strikes. He says OAJ union is prepared to pay the fines participation might incur.

"The plan is to get the whole OAJ membership on board," union chair Olli Luukkainen said.

More information tomorrow

The demonstration in Helsinki is only expected to take two hours and will begin at 11 am. Due to travel distances however, many teachers may be away from the classroom for the entire day. The union says it aims to provide further information for parents as soon as possible.

Luukkainen says teachers in Finland last participated in a large-scale demonstration like this in 1984.

"A great deal of time has passed, which also indicates how seriously the teachers are taking this matter to heart," he said.

Representatives of Talentia, a social service employee union, say the day care workers in their organisation will likely participate in the demonstration, but will confirm the scale of their participation on Monday.

More details on the rail shutdown will also be available on Monday, according to the transport union AKT.


Posted By

Sep 13 2015 22:53


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Sep 13 2015 22:54

This has been building for a while, but I am afraid I wont have time to add any anarchist take until next friday.

Sep 15 2015 22:47
S2W wrote:
This has been building for a while, but I am afraid I wont have time to add any anarchist take until next friday.

know that's great many thanks for letting us know! Please let us know how it goes

Sep 18 2015 10:36

The demo was about 30 000 worker. That's the police estimate, who's union was quite well represented on the demo (they aren't on strike of course). 30 000 is actually quite big number in proportion to how small the population is (about 5 million). There are many smaller demos throughout Finland. Don't know how many people are on strike at the moment. All in all, the demo was quite well attended despite the rain and thunder.

Sep 18 2015 12:37

One of the main buildings of the University of Helsinki has been occupied by students and staff. Probably about 200 of 'em, mostly students.

Sep 18 2015 15:13

An estimated 30 000 demonstators, despite the rainy weather, i might add!

Apart from the people who participated in the demo, large numbers of workers across the country left their workplaces for the two hour duration of the demo. I'm glad to be able to say that 100% of the production staff, and even a couple of "higher position" workers walked out at my workplace today.

Counting both people attending the demo and workers walking out from their workplaces today, an estimated 60 000 people participated from my union (PAM, service workers union) alone.

The metal workers union has urged its members to stay away from work for an 24 hour period, from 6 am, Friday 18.9, forward. Public transport is nearly totaly shut down in atleast Helsinki and Turku, and other transportation workers also are urged not to attend work.

Article (finnish language) in one of the biggest newspapers in Finland:

Sep 18 2015 16:40

"Despite heavy rain, tens of thousands of protestors took to the streets of Helsinki to protest at the right-wing government's proposed anti-union legislation.

Throughout Finland hundreds of thousands of supporters showed their backing for the demonstation by not working between 11.00-13.00."

Sep 18 2015 19:04

NY Times article from July on the economic situation in Finland.

Interesting in terms of Finlands position on Greece.

I've read that the right wing government's plans are to sink labour costs by 5%!

Sep 19 2015 18:17

Anarchist on the move, washing strike violators (?) right wing bus. Police get also some exercise cat and mouse play, kids.