Interlude: Strike

Day 33. 84,533 words. Not much but I deleted a lot of placeholder text that I’d copied in from The Final Fall of Man to provide consistent descriptions and stuff. Anyway it’s more writing than it sounds like!

Today, I’m taking part in a strike.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not really by choice. My company is sort of taking part in it but we were all told we could strike or not strike, it was up to us.

But then it turned out the public transport unions (who never met an excuse for a strike they didn’t immediately fall in love with) were all striking, and so I was left without an easy way to get to work anyway.

And since we were offered a no-harm, no-foul day off (yes, unpaid, but still a day off that doesn’t come out of my holiday or overtime hours and won’t put a black mark in my record), I decided to take it.

Um, in solidarity with the workers! Yeah!

Seriously though, I don’t know what the difference between “going on strike” and “taking a day off work” really is, in practical terms. And the strike is huge, and it’s for a pretty damn good reason. The Finnish government is screwing over its unemployed citizens, making them jump through a stupid number of pointless and impossible hoops to avoid reduced benefits – basically they’ve decided to cut costs by forcing unemployed people to receive less welfare, and forcing employed people to pay more into welfare.

And it’s all bullshit that they just slimily slipped into policy.

There’s already a petition (this is a long story but in Finland apparently if a petition gets enough signatures and is done the right way, it means parliament has to take it onto the floor and debate it) that means this whole awful pile of shit is going to be taken out of our mouths and safely disposed of, but the strike is still a good idea. It’s our way of spitting and spluttering and saying “you fuckers, I knew that wasn’t chocolate when you put it in there, fool me twice shame on me.”

Anyway, that’s my Friday.

And it’s been snowing here like an absolute madman since Thursday morning, so I will likely be doing a lot of shovelling so poor Mrs. Hatboy can get in and out.

*happy dance*

About Hatboy

I’m not often driven to introspection or reflection, but the question does come up sometimes. The big question. So big, there’s just no containing it within the puny boundaries of a single set of punctuationary bookends. Who are these mysterious and unsung heroes of obscurity and shadow? What is their origin story? Do they have a prequel trilogy? What are their secret identities? What are their public identities, for that matter? What are their powers? Their abilities? Their haunted pasts and troubled futures? Their modus operandi? Where do they live anyway, and when? What do they do for a living? Do they really have these fantastical adventures, or is it a dazzlingly intellectual and overwrought metaphor? Or is it perhaps a smug and post-modern sort of metaphor? Is it a plain stupid metaphor, hedged around with thick wads of plausible deniability, a soap bubble of illusory plot dependent upon readers who don’t dare question it for fear of looking foolish? A flight of fancy, having dozed off in front of the television during an episode of something suitably spaceship-oriented? Do they have a quest, a handler, a mission statement, a department-level development objective in five stages? I am Hatboy.
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14 Responses to Interlude: Strike

  1. brknwntr says:

    I dont know what the reduction is for other fields. For my wifes field it’s that she has to do at least some kind of a temp job every three months or lose 4.5% of the unemployment payout. Which seems fair to me. There are shit loads of jobs going. Expecting unemployed people to be willing to take a temp shit job seems fair. However I admit I didn’t get an in depth breakdown and that may only apply to her specific field.

    What the strike means to me is that I had to drive Mrs. BRKN to work at 6 am so I could be at work on time.

    Fucking lazy cunt bus drivers. Public transport is all well and good for the high-minded “we don’t need a car” cunts in the center. But to have employees not come into work because “it’s difficult” annoys the ever living piss out of me. You knew the strike was coming, make plans.

    To be clear, I am not referring to your optional day off. I’m referring to folks who may or may not show up for work today.

    • aaronthepatriot says:

      I know absolutely nothing about your government or work benefits, etc., but…

      *wades in like a good seppo murrican*

      When I read Hatboy’s blog I was like “yeah, yeah! That stinks to high heaven, you tell ’em! I can’t believe Finland is mistreated its unemployed in such a heartlessly murrican fashion.

      Although I think the day without pay kind of forced because the public transport folks strike every time anyone else does is pretty shitty. Glad you’re keeping a stiff upper lip about it.

      But then seeing brkn’s comment, I kind of agree with him, too. That doesn’t sound terrible, unless you have an attitude that unemployed people are that way because they don’t WANT to work, the lazy fucks. But on the other hand, it comes down to work availability. If getting those temp hours is challenging, then again I’m against the policy.

      This is one of those areas, I’ve come to believe, where neither politicians nor common citizens can POSSIBLY have enough understanding to make the “right” or “best” decision. And therefore I tend to think we should be making the KIND decision. Because being kind to the unfortunate is really never the wrong thing.

      • aaronthepatriot says:

        just pretend I closed those quotations at the end of the paragraph.

      • stchucky says:

        No, you’re both right.

        I assured BRKN that I wouldn’t go into this here, but for background, BRKN was raised in the US and has similar views of unions and strikes to those you might have. Anti-Socialist sentiment is strong. And that’s not necessarily wrong.

        Now, this strike was voluntary, it’s being reported as a political protest and I’m all for that. Because while BRKN and I have (I like to think) pretty good work ethics – I know BRKN has an excellent one[1] – we’re also in the happy position of having plenty of work and even if we don’t, we’ve got unemployment insurance and a lot of other things in place so that if we are unemployed, this isn’t going to hit us too hard. Like my laying off from Lionbridge showed, when I’m unemployed I’m basically going to be looking for work, the whole time. And I was lucky enough to find it in my field.

        [1] Although the good old US “turn up for work or you’re fired” upbringing again comes out to play there.

        Many, many people are not as lucky as we are. I’m in favour of this fuck-you to the government for my wife’s sake, and for my friends’ sakes. Many of them are attending protests today. Mrs. Hatboy is working, because the strike wasn’t an option for her. It was, as you say, a bit pushed on me and so I’m not really on strike. As I said to my boss, I would have trouble getting to work so I’ll happily take a no-harm, no-foul unpaid day off. I don’t really want to spend it here talking politics (nothing against you and BRKN, of course).

        Yes, I could have gotten in to work today.

        No, if I am unemployed I will not go and do temp work in a fucking steel mill again. It almost killed me the first time. I would need to be medicated. Plus, I am disabled (even though I don’t show it most of the time) so a lot of more strenuous jobs are not suitable for me. And there are bigger issues wrapped up in this legislation that we haven’t talked about. If it goes through – and this was purely an underhanded bit of sliminess from the government, nobody – literally nobody asked for it – it will open the door to a lot of politicians just doing whatever the fuck they like.

        They have to be told that no. Not here. Fuck you.

        This is already in the works, because even before this started there was a political petition sufficiently large to force parliament to floor this legislation and debate it properly. So it will hopefully get shut down. The strike is just a “and you get this for even fucking trying it, cunt” slap that they richly deserve.

        I’m not really in a position to get too activistic about it – I already did that with the Nazi thing – but there’s more at stake here and I feel I’m justified in my support of the demonstrators. I’d ask more Finns to step in and explain more, because like BRKN I struggle to read too much political news in Finnish, and depend on my own translations and of course the explanations of Mrs. Hatboy. All of these are going to vary depending on how seriously you’re hit by the legislation. Fortunately for the BRKNs, they’re not seriously affected.

      • aaronthepatriot says:

        Hey fair enough, this sounds logical to me. And you know, I forgot to say I’m proud of you Finns for standing up for the unemployed.

        I don’t know brkn’s politics, but I think most Americans would agree we don’t really stand up for the unemployed. It’s more a question of SHOULD we.

      • Auri Poso says:

        My beefs with the “activation model” which is what they’re calling this P.O.S. legislation are:
        a) It basically says that if you’re jobless, you have to work in order to have enough money to buy food for more than 3 weeks of every month, but DUH, if you’re jobLESS, it means you _haven’t_found_a_job_. Telling people to work doesn’t make jobs suddenly apparate from nowhere. There’s a lot more jobless people than there are open jobs. It’s also not up to a jobless person whether or not they’re hired.
        b) If you’re jobless and you take on a temp job paying more than 300 euros in total, all your benefits are cut off immediately. They stay cut off until you’ve been paid for your job AND have received a piece of paper testifying to the amount you were paid. This can take months (just getting paid for a temp job can take up to 2 months), and in the meanwhile, you’re considerably worse off than if you’d never taken that job.
        c) If you’re jobless and do _any_ work as an entrepreneur, all your benefits are cut off immediately. If you’re not a full-time entrepreneur, they may be restored at a future date, but that’s at the mercy of the unemployment office.
        d) In order to satisfy the terms of the activation model, you have to get paid enough € to fulfil the employment clause or whatever; if your employer doesn’t pay you enough, you didn’t meet the conditions and your benefits are still reduced.
        e) You can also fulfil the conditions by attending training organised _by_the_unemployment_office_ or be in a training programme they have approved for you individually, but there aren’t enough training courses for everyone, plus the law specifically states that no one is entitled to be enrolled in one unless it’s personally, individually beneficial to that person – in other words, precisely NOT just because they need to fulfil the conditions of the activation model. To get a training programme approved by the unemployment office you have to be prepared to defend your request for training in no uncertain terms, because studying while on unemployment benefits is a privilege not awarded to many.
        f) There’s a significant number of people who are living on unemployment benefits because that’s the only money the state can legally give them, even though they can’t actually work: people so sick that they are waiting for their disability pensions (which take a long time to process), or those sick people miraculously “cured” by Kela’s doctors who don’t think they’re sick enough (even though their _own_ doctors who’ve actually met them agree that they can’t actually work). They’ll automatically lose part of their benefits because DUH they can’t work and no one would hire them, bringing us back to point a).
        g) Employers need to jump through quite a few hoops to hire anyone, no matter how briefly; pay taxes, health insurance etc., provide orientation, and so on. It’s seldom worth it for 18 h of work.
        h) Following on from g), it’s actually illegal to hire anyone temporarily if the position is actually permanent. You’d have to give one person a regular 18-hours-per-month job rather than 18 h to different people every month or separate 18-hour contracts to one person every month. That’s REALLY gonna happen. (Spot the sarcasm.)
        But most of all I hate point a). If you’re fucking jobless you fucking shouldn’t be fucking penalised for fucking recruiters failing to fucking recruit you.

      • stchucky says:

        All of this. Thank you.

      • aaronthepatriot says:

        Excellent information from those in the know. It does indeed look like a steaming pile of BS from here, half a world away. I have to applaud Finland for screwing over the unfortunate nearly as well as America tends to. Bravo.

      • brknwntr says:

        Point C is why, as big of a market as I see for my skills, and as much money as I know I COULD make in a month working for myself.
        (Easily twice what I make now. On a good month possibly three times as much) I flat out REFUSE to take a toiminimi. (for Aaron, toiminimi is a tax number to be self employed) Simply by TAKING the toiminimi, I cut myself off from any form of unemployment benefits for a minimum of two years AFTER I give up the toiminimi. I could incorporate but not in my own name or the same thing happens. And if incorporate under someone else’s name I screw them out of unemployment if THEY get laid off. Finland is NOT pro small business.

      • brknwntr says:

        Mrs. Harbor explaining that the temp work is UNPAID, makes it something I understand as being fucking annoying.

        When I was unemployed in the US I could work part time jobs for a few hours a week and have it no affect my unemployment check. As long as I didn’t make more than “X” amount. I did have to show proof that I was actively applying for jobs every week to keep getting that check though.

        Also, as Hatboy and I discussed earlier. I was raised in a VERY anti-socialist and anti-union time and place. Where EVERYONE owns their own car.

    • It’s a 5% reduction if you can’t find a temp job (For which you won’t actually be paid a real salary) or find a course to attend. Alas, we are a big country and not all unemployed people live within reach of either of the two. Which means a CUMULATIVE 5% reduction every time they fail to meet the above standards.

      Now, some places also limit the access of unemployed people’s children to public daycare. Which means if you have kids, and are unemployed, you have to magically shit out a daycare place for your kids (and pay for it) while you do your bullshit temp job, because you’re still fucking unemployed. Which means you actually have to pay for the privilege of doing your bullshit temp job.

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