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Protest against government plan to diminish job security begins in Finland

Staff Writer |
Finnish trade unions began on Monday protest against government plans to make dismissals easier in companies with less than 20 employees.

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From Monday workers refuse to do overtime in industries and in road transport. Besides bus and truck services, the ban will also cover deliveries to shops.

The national union of nurses on Monday also announced a ban on overtime and on shift changes that would begin next Wednesday.

The government is pushing for a reform plan, claiming that small enterprises would hire more people if it would be easier to get rid of a recruit that does not meet the expectations.

The reformed terms would affect a third of the Finnish labor force.

Currently, instant dismissals are possible during a three or four months testing period, otherwise dismissals on "personal grounds" have usually been taken to courts, often at a high cost to the company.

Views of the country's top economists have been split. In a survey by economic research institute ETLA, just under half of 50 economics professors believed that easier dismissals would boost employment.

The small and medium sized entrepreneurs have been vocal in the criticism of the Finnish labor laws, whereas the unions have expressed the fear that easy dismissals could target workers who are active in defending their rights, for example.

Local observers have seen the government plan as an attempt to attract the entrepreneur vote in the upcoming election due in May 2019. Business daily Kauppalehti described the plan as "the last chance of the government under Prime Minister Juha Sipila to prove that it is not a prisoner of the trade union movement".

A poll by the newspaper Helsingin Sanomat published on Monday indicated the public opinions were also divided, with 47 percent opposing while 43 percent supporting. The rest 10 percent could not take sides.

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