Helsinki (13.04.2022 - Heikki Jokinen) When a union declares a strike, it pays strike pay to its members. Without this benefit and a big enough industrial action fund the union is toothless in its efforts to improve the terms of work.
The amount of strike pay varies, as every union decides this by themselves. But, this year we have seen a clear rise in the level of strike pay. This indicates that the unions are very serious about reaching their goals and are prepared to pay for it.
According to Finnish legislation, 16 euro per day of the strike pay is tax-free. For the rest, there is a flat tax rate of 45 per cent. However, in the final taxation assessment this will be balanced out to be in line with the percentage according to the full-year earned income.
The longest of the ongoing strikes is the one at the forestry giant UPM. The main union on strike is the Paper Workers' Union. Their strike pay is 100 euro per day, for five days a week. After tax a member gets 66.40 euro a day.
Nurses are now striking in the municipal sector. These strikes are organised by two unions, Tehy - The Union of Health and Social Care Professionals in Finland and Super - the Finnish Union of Practical Nurses.
These unions have higher strike pay: 140 euro for seven days a week. This means that a nurse will get after tax some 2,300 euro a month from the union. This is not very far from the 2,546 euro basic medium monthly salary of a nurse, without bonuses for evening, Sunday and night work. These bonuses are an important part of their income.
Millariikka Rytkönen, Tehy President, says in the Tehy magazine that the union wants to be sure that nurses can survive even during the strike. Their salaries are so small that they do not have savings, she says.
No need be on the breadline
JHL, the Trade Union for the Public and Welfare Sectors, is also engaged in strikes in the municipal sector. Now, the union pays bigger strike pay than ever before, 160 euro a day for five days a week.
"Our members do their vital job with a big heart and too small a salary. We wanted to raise the benefit to such a level, that no one need be on the breadline when they come out on strike", Says Päivi Niemi-Laine, JHL President.
Members of the Finnish Electrical Workers' Union are supporting several of the ongoing strikes, like the ones initiated by JHL, Tehy and Super. The union board decided that in these cases, their members get the same strike pay as that paid by the union that have declared the strike.
OAJ, the Trade Union of Education in Finland, goes even higher. Their strike pay for teachers is 180 euro per day, seven days a week.
The policy, who is eligible for the strike pay, varies. In some cases one can get the benefit from the day he or she joins the union, even during the strike. In some cases a membership is required before the strike notification is given.
Trade Union Pro has given a strike warning to the ICT branch, beginning 25 April. The amount of strike pay is not yet indicated, but Pro has three different types of strike pay, 70, 105 and 140 euro a day. The union board will decide separately for every industrial action which one is applied.
The Industrial Union has given a strike warning for three smaller companies in the mechanical forestry industry from 25 April on. Their strike pay is 100 euro per working shift.
Strikes continue apace in municipal sector (08.04.2022)
Unions begin to cut their membership dues (18.11.2021)