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Helsinki (21.03.2019 - Heikki Jokinen) The Industrial Union has declared an unusual embargo on the Lapwall company. The reasons for this have their roots in the strike action that occurred last October.

The embargo is a legal measure which can be used when a company does not belong to the employers' association. If necessary, a union can recommend to its members not to apply for jobs in a particular company. The purpose is to get the company to the negotiation table and reach a deal on disputed issues.

The employment office must inform jobseekers about the industrial dispute, and they are not allowed to break the embargo by guiding jobseekers in the company. An unemployed jobseeker has a legal right to refuse a job in a company under embargo.

Lapwall has three factories in Finland producing prefabricated wooden wall, floor and roof elements. It also has a subsidiary in Sweden.

The Industrial Union claims that Lapwall is discriminating against some of its employees on the grounds of union activity. According to the Union a 500 euro company bonus is paid to employees who leave the union, do not participate in strikes or do not put in for sick leave during the year.

The company criteria for bonuses are clearly contrary to Finnish law, the union says. It is illegal to discriminate against anyone on health grounds or participation in trade union activities.

The generally binding collective agreement stipulates that a company collect trade union membership dues and pay these directly to the union. Lapwall refuse to do that. It announced, too, that it will voluntarily pay the employees' fee to the private unemployment fund YTK, but not to the Industrial Union fund.

There have been problems with the unorganised Lapwall before, too, but these came to a head during the political strikes in October 2018. According to the union, the company promised back then 500 euro to anyone who quit the Union and to pay 50 per cent more to those who would work during the strike.

Lapwall major owner and CEO Jarmo Pekkarinen denies the union’s claims. He went on to say in an interview with the Taloussanomat newspaper, that availing of more rental labour in the future is an option for him. One of his factories employs only rental labour "and there are none of these kinds of problems", Pekkarinen says.

The Industrial Union is ready to negotiate with the company, but thus far it has not shown no willingness to do that. This might lead to the union taking Lapwall to court.

Seppo Koskinen, professor in Labour Law speaking to Taloussanomat reminds us about the Supreme Court judgement in 2016 which ruled that a bonus cannot be denied to anyone who takes part in a legal industrial dispute.