Finland: Icebreaker strike cancelled, ports to stay open over Easter

Finland's Nordica icebreaker ship docked in the Helsinki port on May 1, 2012. (Roni Rekomaa/AFP/GettyImages)
Finland’s Nordica icebreaker ship docked in the Helsinki port on May 1, 2012. (Roni Rekomaa/AFP/GettyImages)
A dispute between icebreaker crew and their employer will not now shut Finnish ports on Thursday after the two sides reached a last-minute agreement.

Support action from other maritime workers would have closed all Finnish harbours to traffic from 2pm on Thursday.

A two-and-a-half week dispute between icebreaker crews and Arctia shipping has been resolved just in time to avoid large-scale support action. Maritime unions were prepared to shut all Finnish ports if no deal was reached, shutting down cargo and passenger transport from 2pm on Thursday.

End to months of negotiations

The agreement was announced by the national labour conciliator Minna Helle on Twitter. It brings to an end months of negotiations over the icebreaker crews’ terms and conditions. Unions had wanted guarantees that the collective agreements were generally binding on all companies in the sector, and the final agreement states that a board can adjudicate on that question.

The conciliator disclosed that both sides had moved their positions in the final hours of the dispute.

“Otherwise this agreement wouldn’t have been possible,” said Helle, who also acknowledged that the prospect of broad disruption to passenger traffic had helped spur an agreement.

“All sides wanted to get this agreed today,” Helle told Yle.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada:  Supply barge adrift in the Arctic for months, Radio Canada International

China: China’s silk road plans could challenge Northern Sea Route, Blog by Mia Bennett

Finland: Shutdown of maritime traffic may affect 100,000 passengers, Yle News

Greenland: Study finds increase in litter on Arctic seafloor, Blog by Mia Bennett

Iceland: 10 takeaways from the 2014 Arctic Circle Assembly, Alaska Dispatch

Russia: Submariners feed polar bears with garbage, Barents Observer

United States:  Ship trouble in the Arctic on the rise: report, Alaska Public Radio Network

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