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Frontier Guard strike begins - impact of stoppage unclear
Most of the personnel working at crossing stations on Finland’s with Russia began an 11-day strike on Tuesday morning. The move comes after the Guards’ Union, the trade union representing a majority of the personnel working for the Frontier Guard, rejected a mediation proposal put forward by National Conciliator Juhani Salonius. The Frontier Guard would have accepted the deal.
The action affects 452 Frontier Guard personnel. The exact impact of the strike was difficult to determine, because no agreement has been reached on the parameters of the action.
Although the present strike is limited to 11 days, union chairman Reijo Kortelainen says that the strike is only the beginning of the struggle.
The dispute surrounds the new pay system under which old seniority bonuses are to be replaced by a pay scale in which the demands of the task in question are the determining factor. The new system also includes pay rises with increased work experience, but the union feels that the amount is not sufficient.
The employers’ side is offering a 10% hike after 20 years of service, while the union wants 17% over 23 years.
In addition, there are a number of other topics of dispute, including how the border guards are to be compensated for demanding or dangerous conditions and, for instance, how dog trainers are to be compensated.
The mediation proposal put forward by Juhani Salonius involved some concessions to the union as a way to persuade the union to join in developing the new pay system with the others.
Other unions with personnel working in the Frontier Guard have already accepted the changes. The main negotiator for the Frontier Guard, Commodore Matti Möttönen, made it clear on Monday that the organisation would not agree to a special pay system for the members of one union.
There was also disagreement on Monday on the parameters of the strike.
The Border Guards’ Union felt that only members of other unions that already have a contract would be allowed to check passports and visas. In addition, the striking union offered to keep a small number of its members at work, as required by the legal stipulation that industrial action should not endanger the lives, health, or property of citizens.
The union says that such would be limited to real emergency activities such as transport of the sick, while the Frontier Guard says that it would include the inspection of passports.