thousand employees set to strike
to protect their company-specific agreement
with the City of Helsinki's bus company
JHL (07.05.2010 - Juhani Artto) Employees at the City of Helsinki bus company Helsingin
Bussiliikenne Oy have decided to continue the struggle to keep their company-specific
collective agreement. Around one thousand drivers and other employees are now prepared to
commence a two-day strike that will begin in the early hours of Thursday May 20 and end on
Saturday morning May 22.
The strike is being organised by the trade union JHL (The Trade Union for the Public and
Welfare Sectors), to which the drivers belong, and Jyty (The Federation of Public and
Private Sector Employees), the union of the company's salaried employees.
The employer announced -to everyones surprise- that at the end of April it is
unilaterally replacing the company-specific agreement in favour of the bus traffic
national collective agreement. Drivers and other employees condemn this unilateral move,
which they see as an attempt to undermine working conditions and a deliberate effort to
cut costs at the expense of the workforce.
The drivers say that probably most of the drivers and maintenance workers would see their
annual incomes shrink should the employers succeed in implementing its unilateral
decision. As things now stand, a not insignificant part of workers annual income
comes from various allowances that the employer is now trying to cut.
And in another effort to extend its power the employer has tried to extend its leash by
forcing employees to do in various shifts and to dramatically shorten the planning period
of the shift setting. All this does is serve to disrupt employees' chances to combine a
decent family life with a working career. .
On Thursday, the free daily newspaper Metro reported on efforts to scare drivers during
their late April protest strike. Foreign immigrant drivers in particular, were targeted by
phone calls where unknown persons told them that by participating in the strike they were
risking their own future employment chances. Juha Hakavuori, the managing director of
Helsingin Bussiliikenne Oy, when interviewed by Metro, the local free newspaper
publication, was quick to condemn such harassment.