I present to you the likely number one political issue in the country for the next several weeks:
The Union of Health and Social Care Professionals (Tehy) rejected an offered labour contract with Finnish municipalities on Saturday, paving the way for a possible strike. On Thursday the other main nurses' union, SuPer, approved the deal.
The PM is not amused:
Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen called the Tehy nursing union's rejection of the local authorities' final contract offer "regrettable" but reiterated that the government would not offer any more money to raise municipal wages.
He said that tax cuts planned over the next few years would have to be cancelled if all wage agreements are as high as those reached so far.
My non-expert feeling is that Tehy's strike will flame out without any significant improvement in the offer. The deal they've been offered is relatively good, they reportedly don't have the money to withstand a long strike, and many of their fellow nurses who are represented by SuPer will keep working. On the flip side, they have the public opinion on their corner, at least on the outset, and the political pressure on the government will quickly become high.
The National Coalition Party might be wishing right about now that they'd never have emphasized the issue of nurses' pay during the election campaign like they did, because it threatens to come back to bite them and the government in a spectacular way. They didn't promise the infamous 500 euros, but it's still entirely reasonable to blame them for doing their part to set nurses' expectations unrealistically high. The opposition, meanwhile, will be doing what they can to support those expectations.
In conclusion, there's plenty of room here for both the government and Tehy to suffer some injuries.