Finnish gov't plan to help ease dismissals by small employers faces labor action

Source: Xinhua| 2018-09-05 05:46:12|Editor: Shi Yinglun
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HELSINKI, Sept. 4 (Xinhua) -- The Finnish governmental plan to make it easier for companies of fewer than 20 employees to make dismissals is no doubt facing widely labor action in Finland.

The labor unions had expected the plan to be called off during the budget talk last week, but Prime Minister Juha Sipila said instead that the preparation for the changes in the labor laws would continue. The decision was confirmed by Labor Minister Jari Lindstrom on Tuesday.

On Monday, Jarkko Eloranta, chairman of the blue-collar central organization SAK, said all the SAK unions started preparation for "measures" which would not be "just demonstrations". Similar preparations have been underway in the white-collar unions, including those of nurses and teachers.

The unions have said the plan is unacceptable and will create inequality on the labor market, arguing that the change will affect one third of the Finnish wage earners.

The government has defined the change as a measure to improve employment and make hiring easier. The entrepreneurs who support the plan believe the current protection against dismissal is too high that businesses cannot take the risk of hiring.

In Finland, in case an employee fails to meet work standards, dismissal is not a legal option, and the company usually should arrange something else to do or offer training during working hours. Employers can send away a new recruit within 3 or 4 months trial period but not thereafter.

The entrepreneurs complain that "letting a person go" is much easier in most countries that compete with Finland on the world market.

Professor of law Niklas Bruun told the business daily Kauppalehti that the actual impact of the would-be reform on employment is unclear. He questioned the way the reform has been "branded as a measure to boost employment".

Discussing the political implication, Susanna Ginman, editorial writer of the newspaper Hufvudstadsbladet, said a public conflict would increase the support for the opposition social democratic party. The social democratic opposition is currently leading the polls concerning the general election next May.

The coalition government led by Sipila has been plagued with conflicts with unions on austerity measures, labor laws and unemployment benefits since it entered the office in the summer of 2015.

Eloranta said the plan to make dismissals easier would amount to be "the last straw that breaks the camel's back". This was understood as a reference to the possibility of major labor actions.