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Press release

Export Industry Associations: Massive strike in export industry poses a serious threat to Finland's economy – Holding ports hostage reinforces the need to limit political strikes

The new, massive political strikes announced by trade unions in the export industry will substantially worsen the financial situation of export companies. The Finnish economy output is already expected to decline, and the number of change negotiations, lay-offs and redundancies has increased during the first half of the year. Large-scale strikes reinforce the need to restrict the political right to strike.

On Wednesday March 6th, trade unions in SAK (The Central Organization of Finnish Trade Unions) announced yet another political strike in the export industry, which is much larger than before. From 11 to 24 March, political strikes will affect four major industrial companies, thousands of workplaces and all export ports, causing very serious and irreversible damage to the export industry. The export unions Technology Industries of Finland, the Finnish Forest Industries and the Chemical Industry Federation of Finland consider strikes of this magnitude irresponsible in the current difficult economic situation.

The closure of ports for two weeks is such a drastic measure that companies will no longer be able to make up for the losses after the strikes.

"The situation of export companies in different sectors has become more difficult, if only because of the challenges posed by the business environment. In the weakened economic situation, companies have had to start change negotiations, lay-offs and even redundancies of employees. In this situation, trade unions’ political activism against workplaces and ports is completely reckless. Holding ports hostage reinforces the need to limit political strikes," says Jaakko Hirvola, CEO of Technology Industries of Finland.

In the early part of the year, investment projects worth more than EUR 100 million were planned in Finland to the value of more than EUR 50 billion. However, the progress of the projects has become more difficult due to, among other things, rising interest rates and global competition for state aid.

“The intended investments will be directed towards the export industry and should not be rocked in any way, in addition to the difficulties that already exist. The political strikes announced today are once again targeting jobs in the export industry and sending investors and customers a stronger, completely wrong signal about Finland's operating environment. The actions of trade unions are irresponsible, and their stake is the future prospects and well-being of all Finns," says Paula Lehtomäki, CEO of the Finnish Forest Industries.

The Finnish export industry directly and indirectly employs more than 1.2 million people. The industries generate around EUR 100 billion in value added and EUR 35 billion in tax revenue annually. Now, however, order books have become thinner and production volumes have fallen, and companies' assessment of the industrial cycle is starting to reach the level of the financial crisis.

"The trade union movement in SAK seems to want to fight its last battle, ignoring the fact that its tracks will be cleaned up in Finland for years. We are a more indebted country than ever before. One should understand that debt and the country's economic situation concern every Finn. Despite the deteriorating situation, industrial companies have tried to hold on to their employees, but the worsening political actions of the trade union movement are already seriously threatening employment," says Mika Aalto, CEO of the Chemical Industry Federation of Finland.

The outlook for the Finnish economy is considerably weaker than in the other Nordic countries. According to the latest forecasts, the economy is expected to contract at the same time as it grows in Norway, Sweden and Denmark.

Additional information:

Mika Aalto, CEO of the Chemical Industry Federation of Finland, tel: 050 438 9247

Paula Lehtomäki, President and CEO of the Finnish Forest Industries Federation, tel: 09 132 6600

Jaakko Hirvola, CEO of Technology Industries of Finland, tel: 0400 633 751

Further reading:

The situation for export companies remains difficult: Number of lay-offs has increased significantly in the technology industry