HELSINKI — Finland’s Prime Minister Petteri Orpo on Tuesday confirmed his government will push ahead with reforms that have led to widespread strikes in the country.

The prime minister warned that the strikes, over labor market policies and social security cuts by his coalition government, will cause “absolutely enormous damage” to the Finnish economy.

According to local media reports, after taking office in June 2023, Orpo’s government planned to reform the labor market and tried to establish a more “export-driven labor market model” to reduce Finland’s fiscal deficit and enhance the country’s long-term competitiveness.

The proposed labor market reforms include limiting wage increases in industries other than export industries. The proposed cuts to social benefits include setting the first day of illness as unpaid and cutting earnings-related unemployment benefits. In addition, the reforms also include restrictions on strikes.

Trade unions and opposition parties have accused the country’s governing parties of not revealing their extensive reform intentions before last spring’s parliamentary elections.

However, Orpo said that the government had been open about its intentions if it came to power. Subsequently, negotiations were held with other parties, and a government program was created.

“We have the responsibility and authority, and we will take them (the reforms) forward,” said Orpo.

Following a large-scale strike that brought Finland to a standstill two weeks ago, a fresh wave of industry action began on Monday and will continue until Saturday.

Also on Tuesday, Orpo stated in parliament that the government plans to take even stricter austerity measures to balance state finances.

This week’s nationwide work stoppages are expected to affect early childhood education and care, railway services and local transportation, as well as shops and the food sector in major cities in Finland. Electricity production will also be halted at several power plants.

According to local media reports, up to 130,000 Finnish workers are expected to participate in the strikes this week. Director General of the Confederation of Finnish Industries Jyri Hakamies estimated last week that the strikes could cost the Finnish economy nearly 1 billion euros (about $1.07 billion).