The Collective Agreement for the Universities ends coming January. The parties (Sivistystyönantajat on behalf of the universities and Juko on behalf of the employees) will start their collective bargainings soon. Unlike during the previous several years, this time there will be no collective agreements made at national level. The lack of collective agreement at national level may affect the bargaining, especially towards the end.
Most strikes are undertaken by labor unions during collective bargaining as a last resort. The object of collective bargaining is for the employer and the union to come to an agreement over wages, benefits, and working conditions. Strikes during the term of a valid collective agreement are illegal and the unions are prohibited from striking during the term of the agreement, known as a "no-strike clause."
A strike may consist of workers refusing to attend work or picketing outside the workplace to prevent or dissuade people from working in their place or conducting business with their employer. Less frequently workers may occupy the workplace, but refuse either to do their jobs or to leave. This is known as a ”sitdown strike”.
Strikes may be specific to a particular workplace, employer, or unit within a workplace, or they may encompass an entire industry, or every worker within a city or country. Strikes that involve all workers, or a number of large and important groups of workers, in a particular community or region are known as general strikes. Under some circumstances, strikes may take place in order to put pressure on the State or other authorities or may be a response to unsafe conditions in the workplace. A sympathy strike is, in a way, a small scale version of a general strike in which one group of workers refuses to cross a picket line established by another as a means of supporting the striking workers. A strikebreaker is a person who works despite an ongoing strike. Strikebreakers are usually individuals who are not employed by the company prior to the trade union dispute, but rather hired after or during the strike to keep the organization running. "Strikebreakers" may also refer to workers (union members or not) who cross picket lines to work.
The university employees’ trade unions have strike organizations already in place for possible industrial/ strike, should the need rise. Thus far the employees of the universities, however, have not gone into strike before, although it came very close in 2010, when the first ever collective agreement for the universities was bargained.
The trade unions will inform their member well in beforehand, if they decide to go on a strike. An union member should follow closely the notifications given by the tradeunion and Juko should the need arise.
text Mia Weckman
lawyer, the Finnish union of university researchers and teachers
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