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Home BUSINESSIcebreaker sailors strike affects major ports
Sat, 14 Mar, 2015 12:01:22 AM
FTimes-Xinhua Report, Mar 14

 Icebreaker assistance for ships around ports in northern Finland remained at a standstill on Friday due to a strike over salary issues.

     Negotiations to resolve the crisis ended on Friday without fruitful results and the strike would possibly continue into next week.

     The Finnish Seafarers' Union said on Friday afternoon that if no agreement is reached within a few days, strikes could widen into commercial shipping.

     The on-going strike affects the ports of Oulu, Kemi and Tornio along the northern shores of the Gulf of Bothnia between Finland and Sweden.

     The Finnish Transport Agency is dispatching a privately owned ice breaker Zeus to the Gulf of Bothnia.

     Zeus will reach the area on Saturday, but Chief of operations Jarkko Toivola at the Agency told Finnish national radio that Zeus alone cannot keep open the three affected ports.

     A Swedish icebreaker has also been assisting ships going to the Finnish side. However, the Nordic transport workers federation (NTF) has requested that Swedish sailors would not carry out duties covered by the Finnish strike.

     The owner of the Finnish icebreakers, the state-controlled Arctia Shipping, wants salary levels to be lowered. Arctia Shipping owns eight icebreakers.

     The personnel director of the firm David Lindstrom told newspaper Demokraatti that the "greedy attitude" of the unions risks the loss of Finnish jobs.

     Chairman of the Finnish Seafarers' Union Simo Zitting told the newspaper that the strike could widen to other sectors of shipping in Finland if agreement is not reached.

     According to the union, the owners demand a 30 or 40 percent cutback in the earnings of Finnish sailors and threaten to hire foreign labor instead.

     Beginning on Thursday, the strike impacts, among others, Finnish steel giant Outokumpu in Tornio. The company has to rely on additional ground transportation to more southern Finnish ports. 

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