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Finland's Nationwide Rail Strike Impacts Freight and Passenger Services

Finland's Nationwide Rail Strike Impacts Freight and Passenger Services
photo: VR Fleetcare/Finland's Nationwide Rail Strike Impacts Freight and Passenger Services
22 / 03 / 2023

A nationwide rail strike in Finland began this week and is set to continue indefinitely. The Finnish national railway company, VR, announced that freight trains would be cancelled, with only a few exceptions. The strike was called by the Railway Union Finland (RAU), which represents locomotive drivers, following failed negotiations with Service Sector Employers Palta (Palta).

Initially, RAU stated on 10th March that the strike could last until at least 31st March. However, recent announcements indicate that the strike will continue until further notice. Freight trains that departed between Sunday and Monday will reach their destinations, but all long-distance and commuter trains have been cancelled, with ticket refunds issued to passengers. The refund process for freight trains is confidential and based on agreements between the transport company and the customer.

Negotiations between RAU and Palta have been ongoing throughout March, with the union rejecting a proposal for a new collective bargaining agreement by National Conciliator Anu Sajavaara. RAU criticized the proposal for including weakened notice periods for layoffs and reduced sick leave rights. Furthermore, the proposal left all goals related to occupational well-being to the discretion of workgroups.

The negotiations between RAU and Palta, which began on 16th January 2023, primarily concern locomotive drivers' duties in transport, customer service, and traffic management and control. In addition to salary increases, RAU seeks to address unresolved issues related to working shifts through a collective bargaining agreement.