Several Finnish unions plan strikes in February over wage disputes

HELSINKI (Reuters) - A key union of Finnish industrial workers said on Friday it had rejected a settlement proposal in its wage dispute with employers, firming up plans that several unions will go on strike in February.

High inflation and an uncertain economic outlook have stalled the ongoing round of negotiations between employee unions and employer organisations in Finland where wages are determined in national collective agreements.

The Finnish Industrial Union, which has around 200,000 members and is considered to have a central role in setting a benchmark for pay rises for all unions, said it had rejected an agreement proposed by the national conciliator.

"Unfortunately the settlement proposal does not sufficiently reflect the rising prices," the union's head Riku Aalto wrote on Twitter.

The concialiator's office said the decision made walkouts in February very likely to happen.

Several key unions in Finland have threatened to call strikes that could initially involve more than 35,000 employees and hamper exports from the beginning of February.

Initially, some 5,000 white collar workers of industries that include stainless steelmaker Outokumpu and Sandvik are expected to go on a three-day strike from Feb. 1, followed by another 11,400 industrial employees of companies such as Kone, Konecranes, Metso Outotec, Neste, Orion and SSAB between Feb. 8 and 10.

The union of service employees is planning a strike involving some 20,000 workers at around 200 warehouses and retail shops around the country while the Finnish Transport Workers' Union is also considering a strike in February.

Finnish refiner Neste told Reuters it had already begun preparing for the planned three-day strike which would impact its refinery in Porvoo, without providing further details.

(Reporting by Anne Kauranen; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)