What is an industrial dispute and how does it end?
Industrial disputes are strikes and locks. The strike is initiated by the trade union. In turn, the employer will start locks.
Terms and conditions of employment may become the subject of a lawful industrial dispute when there is no collective agreement in force. The opposing party and the office of the National Conciliator must be notified of a planned strike or lockout no later than two weeks in advance of taking industrial action. This notification must specify the causes of the planned industrial action, the time when it begins and the scope of the action.
Employees may also engage in industrial action in order to apply pressure on political policymakers. Demonstrations and political strikes are generally of fixed duration. The National Conciliator and the opposing organisation must also be notified in advance when they are planned. Political and demonstration strikes by public servants are unlawful.
Employees may engage in sympathetic industrial action with a view to supporting the efforts of employees in another sector to come to terms with their employers. Sympathy strikes must also be announced in advance.
A union branch, staff association or trade union may be ordered to pay compensatory fines for unlawful industrial action and for failing to discharge their duty to supervise compliance with the collective agreement.
You will not be paid any wages when you are on strike, nor will you be entitled to any employer-subsidised benefits in kind such as luncheon vouchers for days of strike action. However, you may get strike pay if you are a trade union member.
Any overdue wages and other receivables from your employment must be paid on the normal wage payment day, even when you are on strike.
Employers may take industrial action in the form of a lockout that prevents employees from working. The National Conciliator and opposing trade union organisations must be notified in advance when a lockout is planned. An employers’ federation may also be ordered to pay compensatory fines for unlawful industrial action and for failing to discharge its duty to supervise compliance with the collective agreement.
The function of the National Conciliator is to prevent industrial disputes and to negotiate settlements. When a collective agreement expires and negotiations on a new agreement are inconclusive, a trade union may issue a strike warning or an employers’ federation may announce a planned lockout. The National Conciliator will then seek to negotiate a settlement between the trade union and the employers’ federation with a view to averting the strike or lockout.
If industrial action begins in the form of a strike or lockout, then the Conciliator will direct negotiations seeking to end the industrial dispute, and will generally formulate a settlement proposal for the parties to consider, and to approve or reject.
There is a legal duty in Finland to negotiate, but not to settle disputes. This means that the trade union and employers’ federation must attend when summoned by the Conciliator, but they are not required to settle their dispute.
Disputes concerning the interpretation of a current collective agreement may be submitted to the Labour Court, which is a specialised court that only settles disputes concerning collective agreements and issues opinions on this subject to other law courts.
The Labour Court may order a union branch, staff association, trade union or employers’ federation to pay fines for unlawful strikes, lockouts or other infringements of a collective agreement.
Judgements of the Labour Court are legally final and not open to ordinary appeal to a higher instance.