The free government cheese brigade…
Demonstration in defence of unemployed draws 8,000 protesters to Helsinki
Anger on behalf of Finland’s unemployed was on display in Helsinki Friday. The union confederation SAK called the protest in response to government changes to state benefits for the jobless.
Thousands of protestors gathered in Helsinki’s Senate Square on Friday to protest new government laws that penalise unemployed people who can’t prove they have been searching for work or are in training. The demonstration was spearheaded by Finland’s largest blue-collar union confederation SAK, which boasts over one million members.
SAK director Jarkko Eloranta addressed the crowd at the event, saying that the government’s so-called “active model” is in defiance of earlier government promises to keep its hands off unemployment benefits. He says the three-party coalition made this promise after it pushed through an earlier initiative, the Competitiveness Pact, in 2016.
The Pact saw unions agree to wage freezes, holiday bonus cuts and 24 more hours of work annually. The government argued at the time that this was necessary to create new jobs and make Finland more competitive on the world market.
“There is a great risk that many people will encounter a five percent cut [in unemployment benefits], and we cannot accept that. Agreements must be adhered to and honoured. The cuts to unemployment security must be rescinded,” he said.