ETF stands by Finnish railway workers and their fight to protect their working conditions

19 Mar 2021

The ETF lends all of its support to Finnish railway union RAU and the locomotive drivers striking in Helsinki right now to protest against government-owned railway company VR and its attempts to weaken collective agreements and working conditions.

Railway company VR won the tender for commuter trains in the Helskini area by submitting a low-priced bid. Now, the company is trampling working conditions by unilaterally changing established working conditions.

The Finnish legal system gives employers the unilateral right to reinterpret collective bargaining agreements leaving employees to fend for themselves through strikes and cumbersome legal proceedings.

And this is indeed the case: After eight months of unfruitful negotiations, locomotive drivers are suing VR in various courts.

The ETF strongly condemns such a system based on who can offer the lowest price and then giving such a company the unilateral right to pick apart an agreement that is put into place to protect workers from abuse.

Unfair competition brings nothing but damage and precarious working conditions.

Giorgio Tuti, ETF Railway Section Chair speaks out against this unacceptable situation:

“When competition is based on who can offer the cheapest price, then workers are always the ones to pay the true price. The Helsinki Regional Transport Authority (HSL) needs to take a long hard look in the mirror and evaluate its tendering process.

Under no circumstances should a call for tenders be used to justify the weakening of agreements meant to protect workers and their working conditions. We all know where this can lead: abuse and social dumping. The Finnish government must act now to protect its workforce.”

The railway sector should be an engine of growth and a creator of quality jobs, especially in view of the European Green Deal and the European Year of Rail.