Helsinki (27.02.1998 - Juhani Artto). Workers at the Tamrock Mechanical Workshop in Tampere, 110 miles north of Helsinki, stayed away from work on Tuesday February 17. They called a strike to protest against the company's unilateral decision to extend the working week to Saturday.

Before the strike decision, the parties had negotiated about new work schedules unsuccessfully for some months. Originally the company had even planned to extend the working week to Sunday.

"Under our collective agreement, the employer has the right to arrange Saturday and Sunday work, but here the time was not right for making such changes in work schedules. Work schedule models function well only where all parties consider them to be meaningful", explains shop steward Tarmo Silander.

Tamrock is globally one of the leading producers of mining and earthworking machines. The originally Finnish company recently became a subsidiary of the Swedish multinational Sandviken. Tamrock has an annual turnover of almost one billion US dollars. It employs 5,200 people world-wide, 1,500 of whom work in Finland.

"The Saturday work dispute is not due to changes in ownership. Throughout the 1990s there has been more and more discussion about how to reduce our turnaround times."

Reviving Saturday work, as at the Tamrock factory in Tampere, is not a unique idea in the Finnish engineering industry. Rather, it represents a trend that has already been going on for a long time as investors seek to increase the utilisation rate of their capital investments, i.e. sophisticated machinery such as huge automatic machine tools.

"Unsociable working hours have clearly increased since the mid 1980s", says Pentti Niittymäki, an employment terms specialist at the Metalworkers' Union. The union supplies the following detailed figures illustrating the trend:




1997 (IIQ)

1997 (IIQ)

Day work (%)





2-shift work (%)





3-shift work (%)





- discontinuous
3-shift work (%)





- continuous
3-shift work (%)






The normal working week in day work is 36.6 hours, in discontinuous 3-shift work 36.0 hours and in continuous 3-shift work 34.9 hours.

Unsociable working hours are compensated by hourly bonuses which are, for example, FIM 8.00 (1 FIM = 0,19 USD) for night shifts (from 22.00 to 06.00) and FIM 4.30 for evening shifts (from 14.00 to 22.00). Engineering industry workers are paid double time for Sunday work.

Tamrock's new work schedule including a permanent day shift on Saturdays involves no changes in the length of each individual's normal working week, Pentti Niittymäki emphasises.