Right-wing Finns Party attacks new grassroots movement, postal workers go on strike

Peaceful Assembly

During Christmas 2019, a new grassroots movement against hate speech and racism was launched which attracted thousands of followers. The movement, calling themselves ‘Silakkaliike’ (Baltic Herring Movement), has its roots in Italy’s anti-fascist Sardines political organisation (6000 Sardines). The movement stands for human rights, the rule of law and the fight against climate change.

The idea for the movement came to Johannes Koski after he witnessed online hate speech towards Finnish orphans in the al-Hol refugee camp. Silakkaliike initially started online, but it soon began to organise in-person meetings. While some of its prominent members are linked to political parties, the movement aims to be non-political and inclusive.

However, since its launch, the movement was publicly attacked by the right-wing Finns Party, who feel that the movement is directly targeting the party.

Leader of the Finns Party, Jussi Halla-aho posted on Facebook to reassert that his party is “democratic”.

In response to the backlash, one of the movement’s earliest supporters, Katriina Valli, says:

“We are trying to be really careful that we’re not opposing anyone. That we’re not on the track of ‘now we want to crush these people’. We just want to establish an open discussion culture and bring people together.”

On 1st February 2020, almost a thousand people showed up for the Baltic Herrings first ‘fish mob’ in Helsinki.

However, a group of approximately 40 people staged a counter-protest. They were identified as part of the Soldiers of Odin organisation – an anti-immigrant, white supremacist vigilante group.

Association and Peaceful Assembly

The Post and Logistics Union (PAU) embarked on a strike from 11th November 2019 over conditions of work. Although the union planned to extend its strike to December 2019, an agreement was reached on 27th November 2019. The strike was due to national mail company Posti’s plan to transfer 700 packaging and e-commerce workers to a different collective bargaining agreement. This affected around 10 000 workers employed as mail carriers and others who work in the mail sorting, deliveries and sales sectors. The union claimed that the employer cut a hole in the fence at one of the sorting centres in southwest Finland to allow temporary workers to sneak in, replacing the striking employees. The Union also claimed that temporary workers agreed to zero-hour contracts after being told that they would never be hired again if they did not work during the strike.

During the strike, several other Finnish labour unions from other industries joined the strike in solidarity.