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Government proposal on amendments to industrial peace legislation to be finalised

Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment
Publication date 22.2.2024 17.23 | Published in English on 23.2.2024 at 15.42
Press release
Minister of Employment Arto Satonen
Minister of Employment Arto Satonen

The Government is to submit a proposal for amendments to industrial peace legislation on 29 February 2024. The reform will enhance the sanctions system for unlawful strikes, limit disproportionate solidarity action and restrict the length of political industrial action.

Arto Satonen, Minister of Employment, presented the content and progress of the reform at a press conference on 22 February 2024.

“The legislative amendments prepared by the Government aim at a better industrial peace. Reducing labour market disruptions will improve companies’ competitiveness, growth and Finland’s attractiveness as an investment target,” says Minister Satonen.

Improving industrial peace is the first of the Government’s labour market reforms to progress to Parliament.

Fines for violation of industrial peace to be increased

According to legislation, the obligation to maintain industrial peace applies when a collective agreement is in force. Industrial action by employees directed at their own collective agreement while the agreement is in force constitutes an unlawful strike, for which compensatory fines can be imposed.

The Government intends to propose an increase in the level of compensatory fines, with the maximum amount set at EUR 150,000 and the minimum amount set at EUR 10,000. However, for a special reason, compensatory fines could be imposed at amounts below the minimum or waived altogether. Currently, the maximum compensatory fine is EUR 37,400.

At present, compensatory fines can only be imposed on an association or employer that is party to a collective agreement and bound by the obligation of industrial peace. The Government intends to propose an amendment to this. An employee who continues industrial action which the Labour Court has found to be unlawful could be sentenced to a compensatory fine of EUR 200.

The purpose of the amendments is to reduce the number of labour market disruptions.

Disproportionate solidarity action to be limited

Solidarity actions support the industrial action of another group of employees. The Government wants to impose restrictions so that, when the obligation to maintain industrial peace is in force, a solidarity action cannot be carried out if its harmful consequences for those not party to the main dispute would be disproportionate. Most solidarity actions that have occurred in recent times would be permitted in future too. Restrictions would be less severe if there was no collective agreement in force in the sector.

Limiting the length of political industrial action

‘Political industrial action’ refers to industrial action implemented by an employee organisation directed at a political decision-maker or decision-making. However, the effects also affect the employer. The Government would limit the maximum duration of political work stoppages to 24 hours and the maximum duration of other industrial action to two weeks.

Duty to notify about industrial action to be extended

The obligation to notify about industrial action would also be extended to solidarity actions and political industrial action organised in the form of work stoppages. It is proposed that those organising a solidarity action or political industrial action in the form of a work stoppage would have to give notice of it no later than seven days before its start. 

In the case of industrial solidarity action, the parties to be notified are the employer and the parties to the collective agreement that is subject to the industrial action. In the case of political industrial action, when industrial peace is in force, the parties to the collective agreement should be notified.

Parliament to consider amendments in spring 2024

The programme of Prime Minister Petteri Orpo’s Government includes proposals for improving industrial peace. A tripartite working group discussed issues related to industrial peace from 3 July to 15 October 2023. The working group’s task was to draw up a report in the form of a government proposal. The group was not unanimous in its work.

The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment circulated the working group’s report for comments from 23 October to 5 December 2023. After the circulation for comment, the preparatory work continued. The amendments were also discussed in the ministerial working group on employment and entrepreneurship. The Government aims to submit the proposal to Parliament on 29 February 2024. 

The legislative amendments would enter into force on 1 July 2024.

Veera Svahn, Special Adviser to the Minister of Employment, tel. +358 295 047 321 (requests for interviews with the Minister)
Nico Steiner, Senior Ministerial Adviser, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, tel. +358 295 049 001