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02.02.2024 12:45

STOPnow! demonstration filled Helsinki Senate Square

About 15 000 people gathered in Helsinki Senate Square in opposition to the government’s weakening of working conditions and cuts to social security.

The reason for the demonstration and the political strikes of roughly 300000 workers are the Orpo-Purra governments legislative changes – some of which are already implemented – that drastically cut unemployment allowance and other social security, restrict the right to strike and weaken terms of employment. Read more about government cuts

At the demonstration, Jarkko Eloranta and Antti Palola, the presidents of the trade union confederations SAK and STTK respectively, called for the government to engage in genuine negotiations about reforms in which workers’ representatives are also heard.

PAM President Annika Rönni-Sällinen voiced her concern that the government’s policies increase poverty and inequality.

—The government is making unprecedented cuts targeting workers. We need-full time employment and better working conditions, not cuts!

Waiter Ahmed Nawaz came all the way from Oulu because thinks it’s important to defend workers’ rights, and he is particularly worried about the cuts to workers incomes as inflation already affects everyday life. “I believe that together we can make a difference.”
Retail sector union representatives Mari Luoma and Päivikki Saukko have listened to workers’ worries since Autumn. “Everyone is worried about their future and how they’ll be able to cope financially. There’s a lot of part-time employment in the sector and that makes life difficult. Especially if all the cuts are passed. In particular, the staggering of earnings-related unemployment allowance is terrifying.”
Daniel Swornu came in support of all who are affected by the government cuts. “Weakening workers’ protections will not benefit the country. I also think about the kids, I want a country where they have good job security.”
Ditmar Hasamaj wants to stop the workers’ rights cuts and the social security cuts. “Especially for us immigrants it’s even more important because we are in even more difficult position because of these cuts and the policies of this government. So, it’s time to say STOP now to these policies!”

Political strike

Thursday, 1 February 2024 will go down in Finnish labour history. Roughly 300 000 workers went on strike against government cuts to working conditions and social welfare.

The political strikes declared by Service Union United PAM targeted shops of the major retail chains, hotels and hotel restaurants, and major property services companies.

Early on Thursday, PAM President Annika Rönni-Sällinen spoke at Helsinki-Vantaa Airport, where service sector workers were part of the strike front shutting down airports.

—This is a really important day. We in the trade union movement are united in our opposition to the government’s policies weakening working conditions. This day is a show of force. PAM members truly feel that the government’s proposals are outrageous.

Rönni-Sällinen thanks PAM members for participating and taking a stance for the common cause by going on strike and attending the demonstration in Helsinki Senate Square.

 —It’s important that everyone takes part. The union is the members and together we are strong.

Annika Rönni-Sällinen at the Helsinki-Vantaa airport picket line on 1 February 2024.

Text: Hildur Boldt
Pictures: Pekko Korvuo and Hildur Boldt