Finland is hit by massive strikes protesting plans to cut social security and change how pay is set

HELSINKI (AP) — Labour unions in Finland went on strike Wednesday, starting a three-days labor action that will affect up to 300,000 workers and severely disrupt the daily life.

Trade unions are protesting revisions to labor market legislation and social security cuts proposed by the center-right government of Prime Minister Petteri Orpo.

The strikes will shut down kindergartens and pre-schools, disrupt air traffic and postal services, close public transport and shut down factories across the nation. Grocery stores, hotels and restaurants will be also hit by strikes across the Nordic country of 5.6 million from Wednesday to Friday.

National airline Finnair said it is being forced to cancel some 550 flights, and substantially cut down traffic at Helsinki Airport, its main base.

Most of the strikes were called by the Central Organisation of Finnish Trade Unions and the Finnish Confederation of Professionals.

Their member unions say that the measures proposed by Orpo’s Cabinet will increase inequality in society, weaken the position of workers, and harm lower income groups and the unemployed.

The government has proposed a system in which pay across the economy is tied to the export sector. It would bar the national labor mediator, which is frequently involved in setting pay, from proposing wage hikes in any labor dispute that are higher than those agreed with the export sector.

Finnish media said the goal of trade unions is to force the government to start talks with labor organizations on the suggested social security cuts.

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