Today will go down in infamy, at least to a certain degree. Today, the Transport Workers’ Union (AKT), announced that all its stevedores in all Finnish ports are on strike due to an issue taking place in Tornio. The issue was related to a Russian company and a ship belonging to it. The local stevedores in Tornio did not want to unload the ship, due to the poor working conditions and pay of the men on board.
According to AKT, the men on board the ship are paid about 450 USD a month, which includes everything (overpay, bonuses, etc.). The Tornio stevedores had denied to service the ship since 30th of May and now the owner sent a letter to the local union warning of potential damages that the halt would cause and claims to these damages. This warning was the issue for the strike. First in Tornio and then a support strike all over Finland.
This single strike could cause damages in foreign trade and its collateral of up to 100M euros. All, because of a dispute in a local port in Northern Finland.
It’s a novel idea to support the working standards of foreign employees traveling to Finland on board foreign ships, but I find it tough to find truth in this – especially considering the union’s past stunts. The union has a culture of aggressively demanding their rights and causing damages to Finnish businesses at large. The letter warning of damage claims due to the illegal denial of service was the thing to hit the ego and culture of the union.
The strike has largely caused outrage and anger in Finland. During a time when Finland is struggling to get back to her feet with decreasing exports, it’s hard to find justification for a damage this large.
In my opinion, this is a desperate cry from the union in trying to find meaning, justifying to the members that the membership matters. The more questionable the union membership becomes, the more justified the union will find support strikes for all kinds of things that would win it meaning.
Another thorn in the unions’ flesh is the discussion around the right to tax deductions on the membership fees. I think that this discussion just received more fuel opposing the current legislation. Time has passed unions in their current form.
They have failed to renew themselves and it’s only just that creative destruction make room for a better tomorrow.