Firefighters' strike ends

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The firefighters' strike, which had lasted for over three months, ended in February 1998 after both parties approved a conciliation proposal from the state conciliator. The strike is generally considered not to have achieved any special benefits for the strikers.

The firefighters' strike (FI9712142F), which had lasted for over three months, came to an end on 28 February 1998 after a conciliation proposal from the state conciliator, Juhani Salonius, was approved by the parties - the Commission for Local Authority Employers (Kunnallinen Työmarkkinalaitos, KT) and the Finnish Federation of Technicians in Special Branches (Suomen Erityisteknisten Liitto, SETELI). It is widely considered that the affiliate of SETELI that called the strike, the Finnish Firefighters' Union (Suomen Palomiesliitto, SPAL), did not achieve its goals of becoming a main contracting party in negotiating collective agreements and of obtaining better wages for its members than other firefighters. In fact, the results of this strike can be described as modest. The strikers received exactly the same wage increase as other firefighters under the national incomes policy agreement (FI9801145F).

It is likely that the strike caused more economic losses than gains. Only at the beginning of the dispute did the strikers receive strike pay, and they lost holiday entitlement as well. The strike leader - the chair of SETELI, Heikki Santala- considered the most important achievement to be that SPAL succeeded in achieving negotiating and contractual rights. However, this is controversial. The strike did not result in any right for SPAL to conclude independent collective agreements. Moreover, the strike involved conflict between the unions, because SPAL wanted to obtain the rights of a main contractor in the municipal sector - a status currently held by the Trade Union for the Municipal Sector (Kunta-alan Ammattiliitto, KTV). It is believed that the strike aroused much disagreement among firefighters, because the members of KTV were not on strike but had to work overtime in order to fill the gap left by striking SPAL members, resulting in a large extra burden of work, though with extra income. The strikers, for their part, had to face considerable losses. This is likely to lead to continued repercussions among the firefighters.

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