FIOH's new survey:
working life in Finland has improved
Helsinki (21.05.2013 - Heikki Jokinen)
Working life in Finland has taken a turn for the better in the last
three years according to a general study on Finnish working life,
published a week ago by the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health
FIOH. The study is based on telephone interviews with some 3,000 people
and is conducted every three years. The good news is that
the employment rate of people over 55 years of age is now higher. People
are more willing to continue working longer, later in life. In 2006, 58
per cent of employed people aged at least 45 were considering continuing
work after they reached the lowest possible retirement age of 63, now
the percentage is 74. The number of
traditional occupational diseases has also been diminishing, except for
asbestosis. On the other hand there are now more allergies than before.
These are often connected with indoor air problems especially in
schools, hospitals and social services units.
is becoming a business
Helsinki (15.05.2013 - Heikki Jokinen)
Recent measures taken by Nokia have prompted many people to ask whether
it is using other companies to do its dirty work when it comes to firing
employees. "There is a pattern where employees are outsourced with some
part of the business to another company, which will then quickly fire
them on the grounds of re-organising production. One has to ask whether
redundancy has become a business", says Maria Löfgren, director of Akava,
the Confederation of Unions for Professional and Managerial Staff.
EU has to respect the freedom of collective bargaining
Helsinki (06.05.2013 - Juhani Artto) Experts from the three union
confederations in Finland (Akava, SAK, STTK) have delivered harsh criticism
to the European Union
for repeatedly breaching the freedom of collective bargaining. They refer to
recent cases where the European Commission has intervened in the bargaining
procedures in Romania, Greece, Spain, Ireland and Italy and weakened the
position of unions.
This criticism is included in a 26-page discussion paper published on 26
April by experts from the three confederations. The paper will be published
English at a later date. - Read more:
How do we get out of the eurocrisis?, discussion paper written by
experts of SAK, STTK, Akava, published on 28 November 2011
Unions offer helpline for summer workers
link to the web site of SAK)
A new study:
How agency labour became accepted practice
Helsinki (28.04.2013 - Heikki Jokinen) The hiring of temporary labour (agency labour) gained
acceptance and a sense of legitimacy back in the 1990’s when Finland was
going through a period of severe recession. This form of employment, which
had shown a marked increase at that point, was seen in the media first and
foremost as a solution to the problem of high unemployment. Changes in legislation
passed at that time also reflected changes in attitudes towards this type of
employment arrangement. At the same time temporary labour was understood as
something that only affected "marginal groups" like women and students, thus
posing no danger to the traditional often male-dominated work places.
SASK campaigns with
Amnesty Finland for trade union rights
Helsinki (23.04.2013 - Heikki
Jokinen) The Trade union solidarity centre of Finland SASK is campaigning
alongside the Finnish section of Amnesty International for trade union
rights. The new campaign got underway on Monday 22nd April and focuses on
the situation in Colombia. On the
campaign web pages
(in Finnish) there is an appeal to the Colombian president Juan Manuel
Santos. It implores the president to keep the promises of his government to
end anti-union violence and remove the impunity enjoyed by the perpetrators.
Foreign owners make their
in the Finnish paper industry
Helsinki (18.04.2013 - Heikki Jokinen) Some 40
paper, paperboard and pulp factories in Finland are now owned by foreign
companies. The problems facing the traditionally strong Finnish paper
industry together with major investments by Finnish forest industry
companies abroad have provided an opening for new investors in Finland
itself. At the beginning of last
year these foreign owned companies employed 3.688 permanent workers and a
further 187 in temporary jobs. By the end of June 2012 the number of
permanent workers in the paper, paperboard and pulp industry in Finland was
14.210 with 3.236 temporary workers. Paperiliitto, the magazine
of the Finnish Paper Workers' Union, looked at changes on the floor level in
the foreign owned factories. The article is written by the Finnish
freelancer Matti Remes. The shop stewards interviewed reported no major conflicts, but
there are often differences in management culture.
Trade union confederations
critical of sizeable cut
in corporate tax rate
Helsinki (10.04.2013 – Heikki Jokinen, Juhani Artto) The coalition
government of Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen has decided to cut the corporate
tax rate from the current 24.5 per cent to 20.0 per cent.
The three trade union confederations (Akava, SAK, STTK) are not
happy with the decision for a number of reasons.
First, the government plans to finance the cut partly by raising taxes
for ordinary citizens. This can only have a negative impact on the
purchasing power of wage and salary earners,
which in turn will inevitably affect economic growth prospects.
“Competitiveness of business enterprises is naturally important for growth
and employment but wage and salary earners and the entire society also
urgently need measures that serve to increase purchasing power”, said Sture
the President of Akava, in considering the government’s choices.
expects strong growth
Helsinki (26.03.2013 – Heikki Jokinen) The
mining industry is increasingly becoming an important sector of the Finnish
economy. This is felt also in the Metalworkers' Union where some 1,500
miners are organised. Last year the Association of the Finnish Extractive
Resources Industry (FinnMin) conducted a survey concerning future prospects
among 58 companies working in mining. Among the survey’s findings it is
estimated that within the next ten years, along with expansion, a total
number of 5,600 people will be employed in mining - an increase of 150 per
cent in comparison with the existing situation in the 48 companies that
replied to the survey.
SAK: "Santa Claus came early this year"
link to the web site of Yle News)
Employers block national deal on pay and conditions
link to the web site of SAK)
Production is returned back to Finland from Asia
Helsinki (13.03.2013 – Heikki Jokinen) Finland is
producing bicycles again. The traditional bicycle factory Helkama Velox
moved the production line of its Jopo bicycles back from Taiwan to Finland
in 2010. Since then the sale of Jopo bikes has doubled. About 24,000 bicycles will be manufactured this year, which
amounts to eight per cent of total annual bicycle sales in Finland. Many
components are still produced abroad, but more than 50 per cent is Finnish
work. The original Jopo first made its appearance in 1965 and continued in
production until 1974. With the retro boom in vogue Helkama began to make it
again in 2002 and moved production to Taiwan three years later. The return of the Jopo factory from Taiwan to the
small Finnish coastal town of Hanko is one part of the emerging reshoring,
the return of industrial production back to Europe and the USA. The
reasons behind this are usually diminished salary differences between
countries like Finland and China, greater flexibility and the need to be
closer to customers.
Trade unions reject a
new initiative to cut young people's pay
Helsinki (05.03.2013 - Heikki
Jokinen) The Prime Ministers' Office published last Friday a report
demanding more low-pay work in Finland. The report is drafted by Juhana
Vartiainen, the Director General of the Government Institute for Economic
Research and Osmo Soininvaara, the Green Party MP and one of the party’s
chief ideologists. They propose that those under 25 years should receive
salaries 20 per cent below what is set out in the collective agreements,
with the sweetener of a reduction in the tax rate for those affected. As one
might expect, the trade union reaction was swift. Timo Vallittu, the
President of the Industrial Union TEAM stresses that a cut in wages and
salaries for young people would automatically make them low paid and that
would inevitably set a trend in the labour market. Their parental benefits,
sickness allowance and pensions would also remain smaller, Vallittu adds.
The Electrical Workers'
Union discloses again
underpayment of foreign electricians
Helsinki (01.03.2013 - Heikki Jokinen)
Finnish Electrical Workers´ Union recently disclosed how Estonian electrical
workers were underpaid on a major construction site (car park P-Hämppi) in the city of Tampere.
After the visit of the union representatives some of the Estonian
electricians joined the union and asked for help. "There are many new
companies in this branch and it can happen that they just simply do not know
the rules. In most cases everything is ok", says ombudsman Jari Ollila in
Vasama, the magazine of the union. In this case in Tampere
the problems occurred with two subcontractors.
One is a member of the contractors' association and the problems with this
firm can be solved by negotiation. The other firm is registered in Estonia
and the union has not been able to make any real contact with it. For this
reason the union has declared a blockade against the company.
Violence is often present in
Helsinki (22.02.2013 - Heikki Jokinen) The
threat of violence is often present for those working in small shops and
kiosks. In 2012 a total of 312 robberies were reported to the police, and
the year before 332. Shoplifting is not classed
as a robbery, though such cases may also involve the threat of violence. In
2012 a total of 47,360 shoplifting cases were reported to the police,
several thousand less than the year before. Typical for robberies of
small shops and kiosks is that these incidents are not planned and the take
is often very meagre, a small amount of cash, beer or cigarettes. The
robbers usually wield a knife or hammer, but seldom brandish firearms. By
contrast robberies of jewellery and other luxury item shops are invariably
well planned and executed with firearms. The Service Union United
PAM is concerned about the situation. In autumn of last year the union
published an action plan called five steps for better security.
to get new benefits if they stay at home with the baby
Helsinki (14.02.2013 - Heikki
Jokinen) The law concerning paternity leave in Finland has been amended
since the beginning of the year, allowing the father to take longer paid
paternal leave. This is a part of the policy to divide childcare more
equally between parents and to encourage fathers to spend more time with
their new babies. Paternity leave is now 54 working days altogether,
approximately 9 weeks. According to Finland's social security provider Kela
the father can take 1-18 working days as paternity leave after the child is
Less sick leave with
Helsinki (08.02.2012 - Heikki Jokinen) Company
leadership has a major impact on the ability of employees to perform their
work, according to a recent study made by the Finnish Institute of
Occupational Health. Investing in good leadership could reduce accidents,
the amount of sick leave and general inability to work. The study is based
on information collected from 64 Finnish companies, which together employ
80,000 people. The material covers the years from 2008 to 2011. The cost of
work not done in these companies was on average 7.1 per cent of the salaries
paid, varying from 2 to 12 per cent depending on the company. The costs due
to sick leave and other similar expenses were on average 2,900 euro annually
A master at school
link to the web site of Pam Magazine)
German-style pay cuts tempt Finnish employers, fuels mistrust
(08.02.2013 - link to the web site of Nordic Labour Journal)
getting to grips with work-related
- Heikki Jokinen) In the
last few years Finland has been devoting more and more attention to human
trafficking cases. In 2004 the Finnish Penal Code was rewritten to include
human trafficking as a separate crime and in 2008 the government adopted a
Plan of Action against Trafficking in Human Beings. Since then, the courts
have handed down guilty verdicts in four cases with several other cases
Estonian Supreme Court: Equal wages for Estonians in Finland
(29.01.2013 - link to the web site of Yle News)
Chemical industry leads Finnish exports
(28.01.2013 - link to the web site of Yle News)
journalists and managers coped with unemployment during the economic
recession in Finland in 1990-1995
(25.01.2013 - link to the web site of University of Helsinki) Abstract of
Petteri Raito's thesis; Raito is the editor of Särmä, the magazine of the
Wood and Allied Workers' Union
Growing trend in 2012:
Almost 16,000 employees lost their jobs
Helsinki (24.01.2013 - Heikki Jokinen) The number of redundancies grew
by almost 50 per cent last year, according to statistics from the Central
Organisation of Finnish Trade
Unions SAK. The number of people who lost their jobs in 2012 was 15,800,
whereas the same figure in
2011 was 10,600. Last year's figure is the second highest recorded since
2006, the year in which SAK began collecting this information. In 2009 some
lost their jobs.
Last year the number of employees to get a taste of mandatory consultation
with regard to
possible personnel cuts was 104,000. In 2011 it was 56,000. The Act
of Co-operation stipulates that in all undertakings with more than 20
employees any planned redundancies are subject to mandatory consultation
Finnwatch reports on
serious abuses of labour in Thai food tuna and fruit production for
Helsinki (21.01.2013 - Juhani Artto) The Finnish watchdog Finnwatch has
uncovered serious cases of human and labour rights abuse at three Thai
companies supplying tuna and fruits to the Finnish and European markets.
Thanks to information furnished by factory workers in Thailand Finnwatch
was able to expose the use of both forced labour and child labour. The
companies involved pay illegally low wages and make employees work
excessive overtime hours. - Read the English language summary
(13-page pdf-file) of the report and the two Finnwatch press releases
on the report:
Finnwatch reveals serious human rights violations behind European food
The Union of Professional Engineers
has begun to cooperate
with Trade Union
Helsinki (15.01.2013 - Heikki Jokinen) The Union of Professional
in Finland (UIL) are the latest union to join the group of union
organizations that have agreed to sponsor Trade Union News from Finland,
signing up at the beginning of the year. UIL organizes
engineers and other technical experts. It has 70,000 rank and file
of whom 87 per cent work in the private sector. UIL belongs to Akava,
Confederation of Unions for Professional and Managerial Staff in
"The most crucial issue for the union right now and that facing our
members is the economic insecurity prevailing in
Finland and Europe ", says Ismo Kokko, the director of
collective bargaining. "There has been an inevitable scaling back of the
workforce - leading to more unemployment - as a result of the downturn.
Export companies have been the first to feel this." A great number of UIL
members are working
in the export industry.
Union confederations SAK
and STTK seek a way towards growth
Helsinki (09.01.2013 - Heikki Jokinen)
The trade union confederations SAK and STTK have published their own
programme for economic growth. "High salaries are not the reason for
problems in the Finnish economy, there are other reasons behind it", is
how SAK president Lauri Lyly views the situation. Lyly and STTK president Mikko
Mäenpää see the real problems afflicting the Finnish economy lie in the
too low value of added production. The key sectors of our economy,
namely the paper and electronics industry have concentrated far too much
and for far too long in bulk products. The solutions offered by the
confederations are aimed at guaranteeing a high level of education,
building and maintenance of a working infrastructure and supporting new
confederation EK elects new leaders
and adopts a hard line
Helsinki (04.01.2013 - Heikki Jokinen) Relations between trade unions
and the employers' confederation are exceptionally tense at the moment in
Finland. This friction between the two parties had already become evident in
September. Then the board of the
Confederation of Finnish Industries EK did not accept an agreement which its
negotiated with trade union confederations concerning legislation to
employees three days professional education a year.
Only one in six support the idea of raising the
Helsinki (29.12.2012 - Juhani Artto) The employer stronghold EK urges
retirement age be raised but a large majority of citizens oppose EK's
proposals on the matter in question. Once again this has been confirmed
by the results of the
Yle published on Wednesday.
According to the poll, only 16 per cent of Finns support the idea of
the lower limit of the retirement age. It is now 63 while the upper
68. The trade unions are also opposed to proposals on raising the lower
limit of the
retirement age. Unions believe that people would voluntarily choose to
retire later if working conditions could be developed in ways that are more
conducive and less damaging to people's health.
Record number of highly
educated people are unemployed
Helsinki (20.12.2012 - Juhani Artto) It still
holds true - in general terms - that the better a person's education is, the
better his or her chances are of being employed or finding a job. But this
generalization has gradually lost much of its strength. Prior to the
early 1990s depression in the Finnish economy, the unemployment rate of
highly-educated people was extremely low, less than 1 per cent. During the
depression it peaked at around 7 per cent and then came down to about 4-5 per cent
where it has remained since 1999. The
still relatively low unemployment rate disguises the fact that the number
of highly-educated unemployed people has trendwise grown fairly rapidly.
A new study questions benefits of outsourcing of public services
Helsinki (17.12.2012 – Juhani Artto) In the 2000s, the debate on the role of
public services in social and health care has been continuous. During
the months preceding the municipal elections, held at the end of October,
this issue was at the fore of public debate.
There are no explicit findings on questions concerning cost benefits or
deficits as a result of outsourcing. The same generalization may be made
concerning how the quality of services has changed when outsourcing is
These conclusions are once again confirmed in a comprehensive study,
published in October by the common body
Fipsu, made up of nine public sector
The English language summary of the study can be found
(a 4-page docx-file).
to privatisation of road-builder Destia
JHL (17.12.2012 - Juhani Artto)
The future ownership of Destia, the state-owned company which constructs and
maintains roads and railways is at stake. Parliament had approved its
privatisation back in 2010 and Heidi Hautala, the green minister
responsible for state ownership matters, was ready to go ahead with the
November. However, the two leftist parties in the six-party coalition
government of Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen, find the proposed privatisation
of this state-owned company
Trade unions organizing Destia's employees, JHL and Pardia, are vehemently
opposed to the
initiative. Jarkko Eloranta, the President of JHL, warns that
privatisation of this vital part of our infrastructure sector could lead to
similar price increases which have blighted the construction sector in
companies breach employees’ right to organize
Helsinki (14.12.2012 – Juhani Artto) In Mexico several Finnish-based
companies are failing to respect the right of their employees to organize.
This was exposed in a report published by the Finnish watchdog Finnwatch on
Tuesday. The companies breaching employees’ rights are Huhtamäki, Kone,
Luvata and Metso. The report does not include data from Nokia’s and Savcor’s
factories in Mexico as these companies declined to respond to Finnwatch’s
questionnaire. The report is
part of a Finnwatch programme that is supported by the trade
unions JHL, Pro and Team, among other sponsors. In spring 2012, the
Finnish-based company PKC Group was exposed for similar unjust behaviour.
– Read more:
Maassa maan tavalla?, the English language summary on page 5, Finnwatch
2012, 20-page pdf-file
Finnish industry has not lost its price competitiveness
Helsinki (07.12.2012 - Juhani Artto) Finland's exports have weakened in the
2000s, and last year the current account balance slipped into negative
figures for the first time in many years. Employer representatives claim
that the problems in exports are due to weakened price competitiveness of
the industrial sector. But this is not true, comments Jorma Antila, the
director of the research unit at the Metalworkers' Union.
He refers to statistics that offer no hard facts in support of the
claims. The price competitiveness of the industrial sector has remained
fairly stable throughout the 2000s, Antila reminds us in his column in Ahjo,
the magazine of the Metalworkers' Union.
JHL at the PSI World
Goals are the same but circumstances vary widely
JHL (07.12.2012 - Juhani Artto)
JHL had a 9-member delegation in attendance at the PSI World Congress from
27 to 30 November in Durban. The unity on goals was the most impressive
feature of the congress for the JHL representatives.
Concerns are the same across the world, says Jaana Heininen, one of the JHL
representatives. “But the level of problems is so different in various
countries. In many countries even the most basic things are in bad shape.
When compared with those countries it is easy to conclude that our situation
in Finland is rather good.”
Workers' gender pay gap
continued to narrow in the industrial sector
Helsinki (05.12.2012 - Juhani Artto) In the second quarter 2012 the average
wages for female workers in Finnish industry were 85.2 per cent of average
wages for male workers. In the last two years the gap has slightly narrowed
and is now marginally narrower than in the fourth quarter 2006. In the
second quarter 2002 the corresponding figure was 80.5 per cent.
urges more cooperation
between European trade unions
Helsinki (30.11.2012 - Juhani Artto) European trade unions should engage in
even closer cooperation especially now when there are serious political
tensions in the EU, says Mikko Mäenpää, the President of the Finnish
Confederation of Professionals STTK. He spoke on Wednesday in Lisbon at a
conference where Portuguese and Nordic labour market models were compared. -
Cuts in wages and social security in one member state inevitably puts
pressure - sooner or later - on other member states to follow suit and
implement similar cuts, he argued. Moreover, closer cooperation between
European unions is essential if the trade union movement hopes to have any
influence with the European Commission in regard to safety and health
matters among other things. Mäenpää criticized the Commission's work
programme for the coming year for ignoring the EU’s Strategy on Safety and
Health at Work.
- Read more:
More cooperation is needed between the trade unions in Europe, STTK 29
New reverse VAT system in
increases tax revenues
Helsinki (29.11.2012 - Juhani Artto) Finland introduced a reverse charge in
VAT (value added taxation) for the construction sector on 1 April 2011. With
reverse VAT it is the buyer of services that pay the VAT and not the seller
as is common under the normal VAT system. In practice, this means that the
main contractor is obliged to report and pay VAT to the Tax Administration
(Inland Revenue) in respect of the entire work or project.
Preliminary results indicate that this measure has succeeded in reducing tax
fraud, which was the main goal of the reform. According to the study,
published on Tuesday by the Tax Administration, the changes boost
state coffers by at least EUR 75 million more in VAT-revenue annually.
Retail staff face growing danger at work
(27.09.2012 - link to the web site of Yle News)
Foreigners 'invisible victims' of financial crimes
(25.09.2012 - link to the web site of Yle News)
One out of six wage and
salary earners work in temporary jobs
Helsinki (23.11.2012 - Juhani Artto) The public sector uses relatively more
fixed-term employment relations than the private sector but the pay gap
between permanent and temporary employees is wider in the private sector.
This situation has remained unchanged for many years. In 2011, nearly 16 per
cent of all wage and salary earners had a temporary job.
Almost 23 per cent of public sector employees were in fixed-term employment
relations. At central government level the proportion was slightly higher
than at local government level. In the private sector 12 per cent of the
employees held temporary jobs. Less than 13 per cent of males worked as
temporary employees, whereas 18.5 per cent of females had fixed-term
Eloranta regards proposals by the government for reforming the structures of
municipalities and the social and health services as promising
JHL (19.11.2012 - Juhani Artto)
Jarkko Eloranta, the President of JHL, characterises
the proposals the government published last week to reform the
structures of the municipalities and the social and health services as a
promising step forward.
"Commitment to prioritising the
service provision offered by the municipalities themselves is especially
gratifying. Out of the totality of municipal reform, this has been one of
the most important elements for JHL."
STTK and Akava:
EU's economic and employment coordination
must be based on tripartite preparation
Helsinki (14.11.2012 - Juhani Artto) The three union confederations in
Finland - SAK, STTK and Akava – support the euro and the strengthening of
EU's economic policy cooperation and regard economic coordination as
essential. However, when it comes to the question of EU economic steering
the independent bargaining position of labour market parties must be fully
respected, the union confederations stress.
This demand is included in the statement the three organizations presented
on Wednesday to Jyrki Katainen, the Prime Minister of Finland. The statement
is aimed to coincide with the day of action and solidarity the European
trade union movement is organising on November 14.
Very few municipal employees fear termination of employment
JHL (09.11.2012 - Juhani Artto)
In Finland municipal employees continue to have great faith in job
According to a new book published on Tuesday by the Finnish Institute
of Occupational Health, only three per cent of municipal employees
agonise about losing their jobs.
The book summarizes the results of a number of
large-scale studies made in the 2000s on the well-being of municipal
employees at work.
As a general trend there has been a reduction in stress levels, although
almost a third (29 per
cent) experience workloads which exceed their endurance limits. The
situation is worst among municipal social workers as almost half of them
per cent) claim to have too much work.
A new study:
Producers and users of natural rubber products ignore
the serious social and health problems in the production chain
Helsinki (08.11.2012 – Juhani Artto) The Finnish-based tyre manufacturer
Nokian Renkaat uses anything from 40,000 to 50,000 tons of natural
rubber annually. The processors and traders that provide natural rubber
to the company have committed themselves to respect the code of conduct
of Nokian Renkaat. However, the code’s reach is limited as it only
concerns the personnel of the processors and traders themselves but not
those of the rubber plantations or the
and health problems endured by rubber tappers and rubber workers are
totally ignored by Nokian Renkaat.
This data is from a study published in October by the Nordic watchdogs
Finnwatch and Danwatch. Five Finnish unions (JHL, Pro, SEL, Team and
and the Finnish development NGO Solidaarisuus support Finnwatch’s
organizing various international solidarity activities, the
present study included.
crisis has slowed down the rise of nominal pay
Helsinki (31.10.2012 - Juhani Artto) In the last quarter of 2011, the
average monthly pay was EUR 3111*. In the space of one year it had increased
by EUR 68. During the year prior to that the increase was EUR 66.
In the period from 2002 to 2011 these two figures (EUR 68 and EUR 66) were
the smallest one-year rises of the average nominal pay. The highest
increases were recorded from the last quarter of 2007 to the last quarter of
2008 (EUR 142) and in the following year (EUR 101) and in the preceding year
In the period from 2002 to 2006 the figures expressing the annual rise of
the average nominal pay varied from EUR 79 to EUR 96. What is remarkable in
these statistical figures is that, on average, nominal wages and salaries
kept growing during the deep slump, experienced in 2008-2009.
Eloranta demands gender
impact assessment of outsourcing
JHL (25.10.2012 - Juhani Artto)
In the municipal election of 28 October voters decide also on employer
policy, says Jarkko Eloranta, JHL's President. "The election result has an impact on municipal employer's policy
decisions, and those decisions are felt especially in women's lives, as a
big majority of municipal employees are women."
Eloranta stresses that outsourcing of municipal services so that cheaper
collective agreements will be applied is a typical matter concerns women in
particular. "To a great extent it is their wages and working conditions that are in the
play." "Therefore when outsourcing and tendering one should always make a gender
impact assessment before the decisions are made. And the results of the
assessment should naturally be taken into account."
Union confederations and SASK reject proposals
to cut wages
and salaries of young people
Helsinki (23.10.2012 – Juhani Artto) In Finland, every now and then the
proposal to pay lower starting rates for young people as they enter working
life rears its ugly head. Indeed, this is a favourite ploy of the
entrepreneur associations. The union
confederations SAK, STTK and Akava and the trade union solidarity centre
SASK are unanimous in their condemnation of this call to lower young
people’s pay saying that it is quite unnecessary and unfair in their joint
Dozens of employees from Sri Lanka victims of aggravated extortion
Helsinki (16.10.2012 - Juhani Artto) Illegal treatment of immigrant
seems to have become an integral part of Finnish working life. The
latest exposure concerns 36 employees of the cleaning company Ariel
Oy that has had large assignments from public authorities in Helsinki
Espoo. Most of the victims are from Sri Lanka, the union magazine PAM
reports. In late September, the managing director and two supervisors of
company were convicted of aggravated extortion and other work-related
crimes by Vantaa District Court. - Read more:
"This is certainly quite alarming", PAM 12.10.2012
JHL serves its Swedish
speaking rank and file members in Swedish
JHL (11.10.2012 - Juhani Artto)
According to the latest statistics, 3.2 per cent of JHL's rank and file
members belong to the Swedish speaking minority. Finnish speakers constitute
94.8 per cent and "the others" 2.0 per cent.
JHL's magazine Motiivi outlined in its latest issue how the union serves its
Swedish speaking rank and file members in their mother tongue. One may well
generalize that the service is at least satisfactory or even good which is
not very common in Finland in associations where the language minorities are
OL3 nuclear power plant construction site:
Payment of taxes and social security contributions has clearly improved
but serious wage and working hour problems prevail
Helsinki (09.10.2012 - Juhani Artto) The Employment and Equality Committee
of the Finnish Parliament is organising a public hearing on Wednesday
conditions at the Olkiluoto 3 nuclear power plant construction site. Despite
intensive and concerted efforts by the trade unions representing workers at
the site serious wage and salary
dumping as well as working hour irregularities have prevailed. Also flagrant
obstacles to workers joining union organizations remain in place.
Nordic countries worry over EU internal market package
(08.10.2012 - link to the web site of Nordic Labour Journal)
European Commission grabbing
power from labour market organizations, FinUnion's Director claims
SAK/Palkkatyöläinen (03.10.2012 - Aino Pietarinen) "In the EU, decisions are
now being made
in the name of economic policy coordination that will have a bigger
impact on wage and salary earners than working life directives", warns
Marianne Muona, the Acting Director of FinUnions (The Finnish trade unions
representation to the EU).
Thus, the European Commission is extending the reach of its power to, among
other things, wage and
salary formation. This means that the Commission, through its
coordination role, is seeking to circumvent power traditionally held by the
labour market organizations, the European
Parliament and Council who, together, normally impose working life
Programming becomes more
expensive in India than in Finland
Helsinki (27.09.2012 - Juhani Artto) In India a programme developer is paid
30 per cent of a programme developer's salary in Finland, when the
mandatory social contributions are included in the calculation. However, the
work done in Finland turns out to be less costly for the company than the
work done in
Two factors make programming in Finland cheaper. In Finland programmers make
far fewer mistakes than their colleagues in India and in Finland the work
takes far less time to complete than in India.
The comparison originates from a secret, internal study, made by Nokia
Siemens Network (NSN). The magazine 3-T has received a copy of the study and
has now published key data from it. The company management has not made any
comment on the revelations.
Eloranta concerned about municipalities' ability to provide services
JHL (26.09.2012 - Juhani Artto)
Jarkko Eloranta, the President of the JHL, is deeply concerned about the
ability of municipalities to provide proper and adequate municipal services.
Among municipal directors and leading officials there may even be a lack of
willingness to provide them, he says in an interview with SAK's magazine
"First services are outsourced, then financing for these stops. Soon the
welfare society will come to end of the road", Eloranta warns.
Municipal services are often long processes where special skills of
employees in various professions are needed. If parts of the process are
outsourced, the entireties become more complex and control over the quality
becomes more difficult and problematic.
More than 12,000 jobs lost to date in 2012
(24.09.2012 - link to the web site of Yle News)
Small businesses call for cuts to employment security
(23.09.2012 - link to the web site of Yle News)
Not gimmicks but
long-term development work improves
well-being at work
Pro (21.09.2012 - Juhani Artto)
Salaried employees' trade union Pro published the results of its
latest survey on Wednesday. It is based on replies given in April-May 2012
by 12,000 rank
and file members. The survey focuses (1) on the state and development of
well-being at work, (2) on the pay, working hours etc., as well as systems
at work places
and (3) on productivity.
The results of the survey expose that attempts to develop well-being at work
have not led to any clear improvement despite the numerous projects that
have been tried and other
efforts to reach a higher level of well-being at work. One may conclude from
the lack of desired results
that any efforts to achieve well-being at work - at company and work
place level - must be more serious and ultimately is something that requires
a more long-term approach says Antti Rinne,
the President of the union. And this is also a key element in the struggle
productivity, he adds.
Finland’s comprehensive social guarantee for young people
(20.09.2012 - link to the web site of Nordic Labour Journal)
Finnish union leaders warn of doubtful side of
"German labour market
Helsinki (18.09.2012 - Juhani Artto) A report published in early August by
the Federation of the Finnish Technology Industry indicates that Finland's
cost competitiveness has declined in comparison with its main competitors.
In the debate surrounding this issue employer representatives have
to the strength of the German export industry, in particular, and hinted
Finland should follow Germany's example.
"Germany's road cannot be our road", say the Presidents of two influential
unions, namely, the metalworkers' Riku Aalto and private sector salaried
Antti Rinne (trade union Pro). They came to this clear conclusion in late
August when the two unions published their 30-page study on how Germany's
labour market model has treated wage and salary earners since the middle of
The European water campaign is now collecting signatures
on the web
JHL (14.09.2012 - Juhani Artto)
The European campaign "Water is a Human Right" is now also collecting
electrically on the web. The goal is to collect one million signatures by
the end of this year. All citizens that have a right to vote in one of the
27 EU Member States can sign the campaign appeal.
The eight-language web site (not Finnish or Swedish) for the signature
collection is at the address
When visiting the page for signatures one should select the member state one comes from. The
Finnish and Swedish language site is published at the address
ID requirement for construction workers targets the grey economy
Helsinki (05.09.2012 - Juhani
Artto) All workers at new construction sites in Finland must now have
identification documents containing their personal taxation numbers, under
new legislation that came into force on 1 September 2012. Workers at older
construction sites must have such ID by 1 March 2013. Foreign workers are
not exempted from the new rules. These novel regulations may become the most
powerful weapon available to the Finnish authorities in their struggle
against the grey economy. Over the last decade illicit employment practices
have spread alarmingly through Finland’s construction sector. This has made
it more difficult for honest companies to win tenders, and deprived the
authorities of hundreds of millions of euros in unpaid taxes and social
security contributions. Both Finnish and foreign companies have been
involved in such illegalities. The revised legislation additionally compels
contractors to check that sub-contractors meet their obligations towards
Union leader on UPM's logger policy:
"This deserves to be categorised as white slave trade"
Helsinki (31.08.2012 - Juhani Artto) Sakari Lepola, the President of the
Wood and Allied Workers' Union, is incensed by what he discovered on a
recent visit to
UPM's mill and forests in Rauma, a coastal city in Western
Finland. This anger was provoked by the double-standard being employed by
multinational in regard to its personnel policy.
From the point of view of a trade unionist, superficially at least, the
situation at the mill was
satisfactory. Cooperation between the management and the employees was
smoothly, and in contrast to many other companies, maintenance work had not
been outsourced. Within the walls or confines of the mill the company seems
understand the value of its workforce, Lepola writes in Särmä, the union
magazine. "This is how a large multinational company should
But on venturing into the forest - a short trip from the mill - Lepola felt he
had taken a step into the past.
Unions turn down employer
proposals to open up the framework agreement for new negotiations
Helsinki (25.08.2012 - Juhani Artto). Employers' proposals to renegotiate
the framework agreement have not been well received by union organizations.
The two strongest employer organizations (the Confederation of Finnish
Industries EK and the Federation of Finnish Technology Industries) made
their proposals last week.
Union leader reactions did not leave any room for speculation. They
that the framework agreement can only be terminated or suspended if the
parties who signed it
agree to do so jointly.
Transport Union says Metro subcontractors underpay lorry drivers
-About 20 drivers not paid extras and overtime pay at
(23.08.2012 - link to the web site of Helsingin Sanomat)
employees are ready to consider
continuation of the framework
JHL (22.08.2012 - Juhani Artto)
Union organizations in the municipal sector support continuation of the
framework agreement, signed in November 2011. The agreement formed the basis
for the realisation of collective agreements that cover all employees in the
public sector and
over 91 per cent of the wage and salaried employees in the private sector.
The collective agreement in respect of municipal employees is due to expire
China's ACFTU wants
to learn from SAK how to promote
Helsinki (21.08.2012 - Juhani Artto) A delegation from China's union
confederation ACFTU visited Finland last week and met with Lauri Lyly, the
President of Finland's largest union confederation SAK. According to SAK,
the Chinese were primarily interested in SAK's experiences in the promotion
employees' rights, and through that avenue, the well-being of the entire
"It is important to find a balance whereby sufficient economic growth
the well-being of companies. Then these companies can afford to pay proper
salaries to their employees", says Mr. Wang Ruisheng, the Vice-President of
ACFTU in a short interview published by SAK.
Trade Union News from Finland begins its 16th year
in service of the
union movement today
Helsinki (15.08.2012 - Juhani Artto) Fifteen years ago, when beginning to
publish this web publication, my motivation was to serve both the Finnish
and the global trade union movements. I firmly believed then that there were many
things happening, and of relevance, in Finnish working life and in Finnish
trade unions worthy of reports, in a language widely understood around the
This motivation and this belief have not waned in the past fifteen years.
Rather the contrary. And, very briefly, I would like to outline some of the
reasons why I have remained steadfast and optimistic about Finland and the
worldwide labour movement. -
Read more ...
JHL wants more money
for municipalities in the 2013 state budget
JHL (13.08.2012 - Juhani Artto)
JHL proposes several changes to the 2013 state budget proposal published on
Wednesday by the Ministry of Finance. The government will deliberate on the
Ministry's proposal at the end of August.
JHL is satisfied with the proposal's overall trend emphasizing the need for
tax rises instead of
cuts in public expenditure when balancing the budget.
However, the union is dissatisfied with the proposed EUR 125 million cuts
in the state's support towards municipalities. "Reduction in this support to
the municipalities will inevitably mean weaker services and cuts in
personnel", JHL notes critically.
It urges the state to make up for any loss of direct support by, for
directing revenues from the waste tax and other eventual environmental taxes
to the municipalities. - Read more:
Ministry of Finance budget proposal reinforces central government finances
and promotes growth, MoF 07.08.2013
Wages and salaries sum grew by 4.8 per cent in April to June
(13.08.2012 - link to the web site of Statistics Finland)
Unions offer hotline
for young people working during summertime
Helsinki (09.08.2012 - Juhani Artto) About 500 people have called the
hotline that counsels young people working in summer jobs. Most of the
questions have - overwhelmingly so in fact- have concerned pay-related issues,
Joonas Tutti, who effectively runs the service.
The hotline itself was set up by the three union confederations SAK, STTK
and Akava. And it has proved to be even more popular than in 2011. The
service has been available from early May and lasts until August 24. The
hotline is not the only counselling service for young summer employees. The
web site Kesäduunari-info
lists and explains in Finnish and Swedish matters that any newcomer in the
working life should comprehend. Such matters are, for example, employment
contract and occupational safety. The site is created by SAK, STTK and Akava.
Transfer pricing by companies cuts state tax revenue
(08.08.2012 - link to the web site of Helsingin Sanomat)
Unemployment has gone
down in Finland
despite the Eurozone crisis
Helsinki (01.08.2012 - Juhani Artto) The number of unemployed fell
slightly from June 2011 to June 2012, Statistics Finland reports. Also,
trend in the unemployment rate has taken a downward turn following the
Will this positive trend continue in the near future? Much depends on
the ultimate outcome of the Eurozone crisis, as Finland's economy is
very dependent on the development of its export markets, especially to
Sweden, Germany and several other EU Member States, as well as Russia.
Estonians favour Finland
when working abroad
Helsinki (23.07.2012 - Juhani Artto) Finland is the favourite foreign
country for Estonians working or planning to work abroad. Finland is mentioned as an
attractive option by 43 per cent of those who are ready to work outside of
Estonia. Finland is followed by Germany and Sweden. England and Norway
receive a positive response from 15 per cent of "willing to work abroad"
Finland is looked upon favourably by Estonians because of the
similarities of Finnish and Estonian languages and because of the close
proximity between the two countries and
cheap fares when travelling to Southern Finland across the Gulf of Finland.
indicates also that positive experiences of the host country and
relatives and friends living there play a significant role when heading for
JHL's rank and file members more eager than Union Council
to take industrial
action so as to
JHL (20.07.2012 - Juhani Artto)
Over 60 per cent (60.1) of JHL's rank and file members reply YES to the
following claim: "Local chapters should be prepared to endorse industrial
action more frequently to force
employers to pay attention to personnel opinions in
situations of change." Within the Union Council only a minority (43.4 per
share this conclusion.
Another significant difference concerns taxation of wage and salary earners.
Almost 60 per cent (59.1) of the rank and file members support lowering
the income tax wage and salary earners have to pay while only 41.5 per cent
of the Union Council members think similarly.
Berry pickers must
be paid at least EUR 7.91 per hour
Helsinki (18.07.2012 - Juhani Artto) Currently, thousands of seasonal
employees are working in Finland as berry pickers at the many strawberry
fields scattered throughout the country. Many
are Finnish schoolboys and schoolgirls but since the 1990s a substantial
proportion of strawberry pickers have been foreigners. Soon thousands
more berry pickers will arrive in Finland to pick forest berries, such as
blueberries, cloudberries and cranberries. Most of them fly into Finland
In recent years the working conditions and often the sad fate of forest
berry pickers from Thailand, and some other countries outside of the
European Union, have caused much public outcry in Finland. -
Wages and terms of employment applied in berrypicking 2012 (published in April 2012 by Occupational safety and health administration)
Two new studies:
Employers' attitudes in industry have both hardened and softened
Helsinki (10.07.2012 - Juhani Artto) A new study conducted among rank and
members of the Metalworkers' Union indicate that employers' attitudes have
hardened. Just 21 per cent of the respondents had been informed about
changes in their work as early as the planning stage. The proportion of
such employees has gradually decreased. In 2007 and in 2002 the proportion
was 25 per cent, but in 1997 still 34 per cent. More positive results were
received in a study carried out among shop stewards of the industrial union
Surprisingly, 76 per cent of the respondents believe they were able to
influence the outcome of the corporate-level mandatory consultations. In
2009 only 52 per cent of the respondents reported similar sentiments. "The
that employee representatives cannot have an impact on consultation
results is hit hard by the replies", the union magazine Intiim concludes.
JHL satisfied with the
planned job security rule
for the municipal reform
JHL (04.07.2012 - Juhani Artto)
The government of Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen offers in its programme*
strong job security guarantees to municipal employees who will
be affected by the
broad and radical municipal reform underway. "Wherever restructuring
processes are instituted, the position of Staff members will be secured at
the level determined by current legislation", the programme of the six-party
coalition government affirms. In effect, this means a five-year job security
group: Obligation to provide a receipt would combat grey economy in the
beauty care sector
(03.07.2012 - link to the web site of MEE)
A new study found both
improvement and serious deficiencies
in working conditions of Chinese workers
Helsinki (28.06.2012 - Juhani Artto) The Swedish watchdog Swedwatch
collected data in spring 2012 on working conditions at four Chinese
factories that produce products for Biltema, Clas Ohlson and Fiskars. In the
Nordic countries these three companies are well-known to most consumers
looking for garden, hobby and/or home accessories.
The Finnish watchdog Finnwatch published its own analysis on Monday based
on the data put together by Swedwatch. The data concerns working conditions
at four factories in Guangdong. The new data enables us to understand and
draw conclusions on how working conditions have changed in recent years as
Swedwatch made a similar study in 2005.
Eloranta: Provision of services by municipalities themselves is the bedrock
of the welfare state
JHL (21.06.2012 - Juhani Artto)
Provision of services by the municipalities is decisive for the
the welfare state, says Jarkko Eloranta, President of the JHL. He
characterizes the municipalities' own service provision as "sustainable,
and flexible". It is also good for employment and the entire economy,
"With the service provision of municipalities intact, private capital
investors cannot create service monopolies who seek to make profits from
A recent study, made by Keva (former Local Government Pensions Institution),
revealed that about half of the municipalities and joint municipal
authorities have either already replaced some of their outsourced services
with their own provision of services or are considering doing so.
In Sweden researchers find
alarming number of people with criminal convictions in
leading positions of listed companies
Helsinki (17.06.2012 - Timo-Erkki Heino) More than one out of five, 22 per
cent, of the board members and the CEOs of Swedish listed companies has
been convicted of a crime resulting in fines or in custodial or
suspended prison sentences. The most common crime among the boards of
directors and chief executives has been drunken or reckless driving.
But also crimes endangering life and health, such as assault, were
committed, as well as fraud and insider trading.
The findings were revealed in two research reports
connected with the Sustainable Investment Research Platform SIRP at the Umeå
School of Business in Sweden and headed by economics professor Lars Hassel.
Nokia shares plummit, unions call for action
(14.06.2012 - link to the web site of Yle News)
Nokia to cut 3,700 jobs in Finland
(14.06.2012 - link to the web site of Yle News)
Six unions demand
TVO action against illegalities
at nuclear power plant
Helsinki (11.06.2012 - Juhani Artto) When the Finnish nuclear power company
TVO speaks about the construction site of its third nuclear power plant OL3,
it sounds as if the company is either a cynical liar or totally ignorant
of the reality on the ground.
On Thursday 7 June the company released a statement insisting on its strict
respect for the legislation, collective agreements and the organizing rights
of the employees. It also pledged its assurance that all of its
and in turn, all their subcontractors, would follow the same principles.
However, this is far from the case, concerned trade unions claim. On the
day, June 7, six trade unions held a press conference where they declared
their decision to begin industrial action against TVO in a bid to force it
actively defend the legislation, collective agreements and organizing
A paperworker is just as
expensive in Finland as in Sweden
to the employer
Helsinki (06.06.2012 - Juhani Artto) The Swedish union publication Dagens
Arbete surprised its readers on May 3 by claiming that a paperworker cost
their employer in Finland over 1.5 times more than in Sweden last year.
According to the news an operating employee cost EUR 43 per hour
in Finland as opposed to EUR 28 per hour in Sweden on average.
The news caused amazement at the union of the Finnish paperworkers
Paperiliitto, which has been closely following personnel cost changes over
decades. The figures presented by Dagens Arbete seemed to be on the wrong
track not only concerning Sweden but also concerning Canada and Japan.
unanimously to continue as President of JHL
JHL (06.06.2012 - Juhani
Artto) Jarkko Eloranta was elected unanimously, on Wednesday, by the Union
Council to serve for another 5 years as the union's President. He has held
the post since September 2011. The 120-member Union Council had its first
meeting on Wednesday following the election by direct ballot in March this
year. The Council meeting continues on Thursday. The Union Council also
elected two Vice Presidents. Teija Asara-Laaksonen once again received the
mandate to continue as one of the Vice Presidents alongside Päivi
Niemi-Laine, who was also elected to this post. Eloranta and Niemi-Laine are
Social Democrats. Asara-Laaksonen represents the Left Alliance.
JHL effort to collect signatures for the water campaign underway
JHL (29.05.2012 - Juhani Artto)
The European campaign Water is a Human Right got off to a strong start in
Finland over the weekend.
JHL, the largest trade union in the public sector,
collected almost 400 signatures towards the campaign appeal. Two ministers
from the present government were among those who signed.
The venue was the annual world village festival in Helsinki city centre.
JHL had there
a stall to promote the campaign and serve as a contact point for
Those who signed the appeal are demanding clean water and functioning
sanitation for all people -
not only in Europe but throughout the world. The EU must participate
the implementation of this demand. The third demand is to ensure these
be kept public.
A tripartite task
force in search of ways to improve the unfair status of atypical labour
Helsinki (28.05.2012 - Juhani Artto) What is the status of employees in
fixed-time jobs and part-time jobs, of agency labour and of self-employed
and how to develop and enhance their status? These are the questions on the
table of a
tripartite task force that was established by the Ministry of Employment and
the Economy last year.
The task force published its first report in mid-May. It identifies some
problems these groups face in the labour market. Generally speaking, they do
not have all the rights that employees in full-time and permanent employment
relations have and also their economic status tends to be lower than that
of their full-time, permanent job colleagues.
About 250 rank and file members candidate
in Pro's Union Council election
Pro (22.05.2012 - Juhani Artto)
A new Union Council for the Trade Union Pro will be elected after the
vacation period. The voting will begin on August 27 and end on September 7.
Some 250 rank and file members are standing for election to the 100-member
Council. The time
for selecting candidates, within the associations, ended on May 15.
Members, who are working or looking for work or temporarily outside of the
labour market, have the right to vote in the election. This concerns rank
and file members who are included in the union's rank and file member
register by August 1 (4pm).
Nordic opposition to minimum wage shows lack of solidarity?
(22.05.2012 - link to the web site of Nordic
Life after Nokia also means new opportunities
(22.05.2012 - link to the web site of Nordic
Finland, Denmark, Germany and Sweden have successfully reformed their labour
markets in the 2000s
Helsinki (21.05.2012 - Juhani Artto) In the 2000s, Finland, Denmark, Germany
and Sweden have waged an active labour market policy. They have continuously
reformed their labour markets in order to balance supply and demand. All
countries have succeeded fairly well in this demanding task, at least when
comparing their achievements with other EU Member States. In these four
countries employment rates are higher and unemployment rates lower
than in EU Member States on average. A new study, commissioned and published by the Ministry of Employment and
the Economy in Finland (MEE), analyses labour market reforms in these
four countries from 2000 to 2010. -
Study indicates that long-term approach is needed on labour market reforms, MEE 10.05.2012
Pam magazine: The last links in the chain
(21.05.2012 - link to the web site of Pam
Human rights expert Parul Sharma to join Stora Enso
(21.05.2012 - link to the web site of Stora
Salaried employees in the
financial sector earn EUR2,736 on average
Pro News (14.05.2012 - Katja Palhus / Juhani Artto)
The average salary of financial sector salaried employees is EUR300 below
the average pay of Finnish wage and salary earners.
In October 2011 financial sector salaried employees earned, on average,
EUR2,736. The average pay of the sector's entire personnel was EUR3,771. The
pay level varies according to the nature and levels of the tasks and on the
location. In the Greater Helsinki Region the pay level is higher than
elsewhere in Finland.
interaction between employers and employees leads to longer
JHL (14.05.2012 - Juhani Artto)
In Finland there prevails a common understanding on the need to extend work
careers, Union Council of JHL stated in its communique on Thursday. "In
labour-intensive sectors it is possible to extend work careers and raise
productivity, when the personnel are motivated and conscious of goals and
To a large extent it depends on the employers' willingness and ability to
integrate well-being at work and occupational safety with planning,
management and monitoring, the Council stressed.
ethnic discrimination most prevalent during recruitment stage
Helsinki (09.05.2012 - Juhani Artto) In the Finnish labour market ethnic
minorities face discrimination at the recruitment stage in particular.
At work places and in termination situations ethnic discrimination is
not as common as at the recruitment stage. These are some of the major
findings in a new study (Discrimination in the Finnish labor market. An overview and a field
experiment on recruitment, MEE May 2012, a 212-page pdf-file) on discrimination in the labour market.
The study covers all labour-related categories and all grounds
the Finnish Non-Discrimination Act. According to the study, other
such as age, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion and
do not lead to labour discrimination as frequently as ethnicity (and
nationality and language, which are closely related to ethnicity). The
frequency of ethnic discrimination is over three times higher than
discrimination, the researchers conclude.
Finns' support for organizing remains very high
Helsinki (04.05.2012- Heikki Jokinen) An overwhelming majority of Finns
regard it as necessary for wage and salary earners to join a union. When
asked how necessary it is to organize 46 per cent of the respondents say it
to be "very necessary" and another 46 per cent "rather necessary".
This is among the most important findings in a survey covering the
population from the age of 15 upwards.
The support for organizing was even slightly higher than in the seven
similar surveys made since 2004. The latest survey confirms that positive
attitudes towards trade unions and expectations from these organisations
Weak control of foreign labour and companies
cause major tax losses
Helsinki (26.04.2012- Heikki Jokinen) The tax base was
narrowed in 2010 by as much as
675 million euro due to the shortcomings in asserting control over the
labour force in Finland. In real terms this meant an actual loss in tax
revenues of approximately 100 -
150 million euro.
The figures are from a recent report on the efficacy of regulations
foreign labour in Finland. It is written by a senior researcher into the
black economy, Mr. Markku Hirvonen, and commissioned by the National Police
The report reveals that at least 31,000 foreign workers - and this is a
conservative estimate - arrived in
Finland to work for foreign companies. Some 24,000 of these employees
were not registered with the Finnish Tax Administration.
Eloranta wants to continue as
JHL (23.04.2012/corrected 24.04.2012 - Juhani Artto) Jarkko Eloranta, JHL's President since September
2011, has reacted
positively to union activists who have asked him to stand for
re-election. The new 120-member Union Council will hold its first meeting
from 5 to 7 June 2012 in Helsinki and will elect the President and two Vice
Presidents for a five-year term.
As to date, two persons have announced their candidacy for the Vice
posts. They are Pirjo Mäkinen, Vice President since September 2011, and
Päivi Niemi-Laine who heads JHL's communications and community relations
unit. Following a common practice in the Finnish trade union movement,
the aforementioned were also prevailed upon, by union activist groups, to
put themselves forward as candidates in the Vice Presidential election.
Bus drivers in Helsinki to hold a 24-hour strike on May 2
JHL (18.04.2012 - Juhani Artto)
Bus drivers working for Helsingin Bussiliikenne Oy and organized in the
trade union JHL will be on strike on Wednesday May 2. The 24-hour strike
begins and ends at midnight.
JHL has decided to organize the strike because of the problems JHL's
negotiators have encountered during collective bargaining with the
representatives of Helsingin Bussiliikenne Oy. The employer organization PTY
is not willing to apply the framework agreement, largely approved in the
labour market, and is trying to undermine the working conditions of its
JHL's goal is for the present parties to sign a collective agreement whose
cost impact is based on the framework agreement. The current collective
agreement expires on April 30.
The number of work
accidents rose again in 2011
Helsinki (16.04.2012 - Juhani Artto) The latest statistics on work accidents
reveal a fairly alarming trend. Despite the best efforts of individuals and
organizations to reduce the number of work accidents there has been a marked
increase in 2011-up by over six per cent from 2010.
And this follows an earlier five per cent
rise in 2010.
This worsening trend can also be seen from the changes in the overall
accident rate. Between 2009 and 2011 it rose by over eight per cent. Thus,
variation of economic activity does not offer any real comfort when studying
PKC's biggest owner
considers pulling out
due to trade union
restrictions at Mexican factory
Helsinki (11.04.2012 - Heikki Jokinen) The Finnish pension insurance company
Ilmarinen says it may withdraw it's investments from the Finnish
auto parts company PKC due to the restrictions being placed on trade union
work in their
PKC's Mexican subsidiary Arneses y Accesorios de Mexico signed a collective
agreement with a union the workers do not want to represent them. Three
union presidents in Finland, Riku Aalto (Finnish Metalworkers' Union), Antti
Rinne (Pro) and Pertti Porokari (Union of Professional Engineers), sent a
letter to PKC’s CEO to protest vigorously at the decision that had been
taken by management. In the letter they charged unequivocally that the agreement was an
attempt to prevent genuine
trade union work and in violation of ILO conventions.
Labour disputes increasingly involve police
(10.04.2012 - link to the web site of
Wage and salary earners' pay differentials contracted further in 2010
(05.04.2012 - link to the web site of Statistics Finland)
confederations agree on how to extend work careers by one year
Helsinki (03.04.2012 - Juhani Artto) On March 22 labour market
confederations were finally able to agree on a substantial set of measures
that will extend work careers. Experts estimate that the agreement will
careers on average by one year.
Another positive outcome of the agreement is that the expected extension of
work careers will serve to balance the state budget, in the long-term, by
over EUR 2
billion per annum.
The agreement also paved the way for the government to refrain from any
cuts in social spending. The labour market confederations agreed on the work
career agreement at the 11th hour prior to a meeting where the government
was due to
make (and also made) decisions on a budget framework for several years to come.
JHL's new Union Council consists of 85 Social democrats
representatives of the Left Alliance
JHL (30.03.2012 - Juhani Artto)
In the vote to elect the new Union Council rank and file members of
Finland's largest trade union JHL have chosen candidates from only two of
the lists available, namely; those of the Social democrats and the Left
Alliance. Both lists also included "unaffiliated" candidates.
The Social democrats won 85 seats on the 120-member Council, the Left
Alliance 35. The lists of the Centre Party, the Greens and the Finns Party
received less than one per cent of the votes each. The Left Alliance was
able to increase its share of the vote, rather noticeably, up from 25.4 per
cent to 29.2 per cent while the Social Democrats’ share went down,
marginally, from 68.7 per cent to 67.7 per cent.
Finnish enterprises abroad, nearly 5,000 affiliates in 118 countries
(29.03.2012 - link to the web site of Statistics Finland)
Finnish trade unions turn
down European Commission's proposal
to limit the
right to strike
Helsinki (28.03.2012 - Juhani Artto) The three union confederations in
Finland - SAK, STTK and Akava - regard it as impossible to approve the
Commission's proposal concerning the right to strike. The proposal was
published on March 21.
The Commission wants to define, with the so-called Monti II Regulation, the
relationship between the right to take industrial action and the freedom of
establishment (right to set up and operate a business from any member state)
and freedom to provide services. The problem of how to reconcile
economic and social rights has come to light at the Court of Justice of the
European Union when handling disputes (the Viking and Laval cases)
which cross the borders of
member states and involve different national legislation.
JHL supports move to delve
into Finnish public sector's cooperation with
companies operating in developing countries
JHL (27.03.2012 - Juhani Artto)
Finnwatch, the watchdog agency tracking Finnish companies' operations in
countries has established a new research project supported by four Finnish
trade unions and the Finnish NGO International Solidarity Foundation. The
Decent Work programme will investigate working conditions at company units
those of their subcontractors in developing countries, which supply goods to
The unions taking part in this effort are the Trade Union for the Public and
Sectors JHL, the salaried employees union Pro, health and social sector
employees' Tehy and the Finnish Food Workers' Union SEL.
Proposals of labour
market organizations setto extend work careers and safeguard justice
The government had asked labour market organizations to agree on proposals
on how to extend work careers. The agreement that has now been reached
between the labour market organizations will have the effect of
simultaneously extending work careers and safeguarding
inter-generational justice, says the Finnish Confederation of Professionals
STTK. Its board approved the negotiation outcome on Thursday. Mikko Mäenpää,
the President of STTK, is satisfied with the common understanding that has
once again been found through negotiations between the labour market
SAK: A committee needed to
study men's situation
Helsinki (23.03.2012 - Heikki Jokinen) The union confederation SAK is
concerned about the situation of men in society. It requests that the
set up a committee to draft a report on the privileges men enjoy and the
problems they face to see in which way these are attributable to gender.
This would help to better guide
future Finnish policy in respect of gender equality.
Some 110,000 young people between the ages of 20 and 30 have no further
education other than the 9-year mandatory schooling. About 70,000 of these
are men. At
all levels men are more likely than women to interrupt their education. Men
also participate less in adult education than women.
Budget talks: Increase in VAT, changes to pensions and benefits
(22.03.2012 - link to the web site of Yle News)
AKT boss out, victory for the sacked comms chief
(22.03.2012 - link to the web site of Yle News)
Unemployment rate 7.7 per cent in February
(20.03.2012 - link to the web site of Statistics Finland)
Major Finnish-based companies have expanded their workforces abroad,
while reducing them in Finland
Helsinki (16.03.2012 - Heikki Jokinen, Juhani Artto) In the 2000's 13 major
Finnish-based multinational companies have almost doubled their personnel
abroad to about 234,000. In the same period they have cut the number of
their employees in Finland by nearly a third to 105,000. The proportion of
their employees working abroad rose, in a decade, from 47 per cent to 69 per
cent, researchers Ritva Oesch and Pekka Sauramo report in a new article.
Older salaried employees are pushed out of working life
by employers, Pro's survey reveals
Helsinki (14.03.2012 - Juhani Artto) In 2011, almost 25 per cent of
sector salaried employees, from 60 to 64 years of age, were given notice
their employers. Among those from 55 to 59 years of age nearly 15 per
lost their jobs as a result of their employers' decisions. In the age
brackets of younger salaried employees the dismissal rate was well below
10 per cent.
These are some of the major findings in a survey published on Wednesday
the salaried employees' trade union Pro. The figures are based on
given last year by 14,000 rank and file members of the union. These
people work, for
example, as experts and supervisors in industry and in the service,
ICT and communication sectors.
Gender equality has
improved too slowly
JHL (08.03.2012 - Juhani Artto)
Work to improve gender equality has not proceeded as anticipated.
Voicing the right
principles and coming up with good programmatic declarations have not
been enough to bring about effective change, claims Jarkko Eloranta, the
President of the Trade Union
for the Public and Welfare Sectors JHL, in an interview published by the
union on March 8 - International Women's Day. Currently 69 per cent of JHL's rank and file members are women.
Nordic women loose power despite Denmark's new prime minister
(08.03.2012 - link to the web site of Nordic Labour Journal)
Bullying allegations shake position of Transport Workers' Union leader
(06.03.2012 - link to the web site of Helsingin Sanomat)
MEE's working life barometer 2011:
Relevance of work and willingness to work on the decline
Helsinki (29.02.2012 - Juhani Artto) The relevance of work and
work are diminishing, say a majority of wage and salary earners,
the latest working life barometer. It was published in January by the
Ministry of Employment and the Economy (MEE).
Recent annual reports reveal
this trend has been prevalent for a longer time already. In autumn 2011,
latest material was collected and sifted, it was found that the number
of negative replies (making up the majority) was even
greater than in previous years.
SAK dissatisfied with the proposals for Finland's
Helsinki (22.02.2012 - Heikki Jokinen) The union confederation SAK
the idea of creating a national strategy aimed at attracting foreign
to Finland. However, SAK is disappointed with the proposals* put forward
Eloranta, the retired CEO of Metso. SAK regards the proposals to cut
taxes as "unrealistic" and "unnecessary". The level of company taxation
Finland is nowadays below the average level of Western European
"Finland can be attractive to foreign investors only if it can offer
them versatile skills, a predictable tax policy, incorruptible
and stable circumstances", says Matti Tukiainen, the director of
policy at SAK. The proposals to improve the competitiveness of the
forest industry should be implemented without delay, and SAK demands
urgent action be taken to bring this about. The Paper
Workers' Union shares this view.
*One-man-committee Jorma Eloranta: More investment in Finland urgently
needed, MEE press release 15.02.2012
To raise or not to
Labour market organizations divided over minimum retirement age
Helsinki (20.02.2012 - Juhani Artto) The daily Helsingin Sanomat reported on
February 11 that the board of the union confederation SAK has mandated its
President Lauri Lyly to negotiate on the gradual raising of the minimum
retirement age, if the average retirement age does not rise as planned.
The labour market organizations and the government have set as their common
goal that the average retirement age should be raised to 62.4 years by 2025.
In 2011, the
figure rose by 0.1 percentage points to 60.5.
STTK's board does
not approve of raising
the minimum retirement age
The board of the Finnish Confederation of Professionals STTK does not
approve of raising the minimum retirement age from 63 years to 65 years. The
board finds the pension system to function well and reminds us that work
careers have been extended as planned.
The Finnish government has asked labour market organizations to agree on how
to extend work careers. The common understanding should be reached by late
March when the government handles the budgetary framework for the coming
Purchaser-provider model contains serious risks to services
JHL (13.02.2012 - Juhani Artto)
Within municipalities, use of the so called purchaser-provider model in
services to citizens is proving to be problematic, Teija Asara-Laaksonen
said last week
in Hämeenlinna. She is the Vice-President of the Trade Union for the Public
and Welfare Sectors. The model in question serves to separate or divide the
organizing of services from the actual provision of these services.
Under current legislation municipalities are mandated to organize a wide
variety of services, especially in the health, social and educational
sectors. When applying the purchaser-provider model municipalities outsource
Municipal reform needs support of municipal employees
JHL (10.02.2012 - Juhani Artto)
The profound and radical municipal reform plans envisaged by the government
cannot succeed without the support of municipal
employees, the board of the Trade Union for the Public and Welfare
Sectors JHL, made clear on Thursday. Genuine cooperation between the
employer side and
employees is one of the preconditions for establishing this support.
Any efforts to harmonise wages and salaries in municipalities, which are to
must be negotiated in good faith and the necessary resources for
harmonization must be made available. Also, different personnel sectors must
equally and working conditions have to be developed and improved. These are
among the altogether eight preconditions for employee support of the
reform listed by JHL’s board.
German and Finnish unions fight against cuts at Nokia Siemens
(09.02.2012 - link to the web site of Int. Metalworkers' Federation)
Personnel have much to give when it comes to municipal reform
JHL (09.02.2012 - Juhani Artto)
On Wednesday, a big step forward was taken towards comprehensive municipal
when a task force, made up of civil servants, published its analysis and proposals.
According to the task force the number of municipalities should be reduced -
by amalgamations - to a maximum of 70 from the present 336.
The most crucial thing in this reform is not the number of municipalities
the safeguarding of services, says Jarkko Eloranta, the President of the
Union for the Public and Welfare Sectors.
"Therefore it is vital that the personnel are allowed to play an important
role in the reform process."
STTK: Nokia has to bear economic responsibility for the dismissed
Nokia's announcement that it was axing about thousand jobs is a direct
deathblow to the mobile telephone assembly industry in Finland, says the
Finnish Confederation of Professionals STTK.
"The information Nokia published on February 8 forces us to find some means
for preserving the competitiveness of Finnish industry in the international
market", states STTK's expert in industrial policy, Antti Aarnio.
"Finland has to work out a strategy on how to develop industrial structures
and policies. There is need that people can trust and believe in the ability of
industry to employ people in the future."
Nokia to halt assembly at Salo plant
(08.02.2012 - link to the web site of Yle News)
STTK's Sund: OECD's diagnosis of Finland is correct and remedies
offered are proper in the main
OECD published its country report* on Finland on February 7. Its main
message is similar to the analysis of the Finnish Confederation of
Professionals STTK on the state of the Finnish economy. The challenges
facing those steering economic policy are primarily in how to secure longer
term growth. The financial crisis that began in 2008 has resulted in serious
damage to productivity development. It is very important to repair this
"Finland has good reasons to balance its State budget also in the short
term. However, it is decisive to carry out structural changes that have a
longer term impact", says STTK's economic policy expert Ralf Sund.
*Finland 2012, overview, OECD 07.02.2012 (a 33-page pdf-file)
signs agreement with protection union in Mexico
(06.02.2012 - link to the web site of Int. Metalworkers' Federation)
flexibility in working conditions act as an incentive
to continue working
Helsinki (06.02.2012 - Heikki Jokinen) The discussion on the proper
retirement age is ongoing in Finland, as it is also in many other European
countries. Employer organisations are in favour of raising the minimum
age, which is now 63.
A new study, published by the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health,
offers some useful suggestions on how to encourage employees to remain
working life. The study suggests that employers should take the individual
wishes and situation of wage and salary earners better into account.
Well-being at work and managerial skills should be improved.
STTK urges the
well-to-do to bear their share of rising taxes
The government of Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen is preparing measures to
balance the State budget. Expenditure is to be cut and taxes raised.
The original goal for the entire 4-year Parliamentary term was to save EUR
2.5 billion, but Raimo Sailas, the Secretary of State at the Ministry of
Finance, insists that savings must now be tripled to EUR 7.5 billion.
Leila Kostiainen, the Secretary General of the Finnish Confederation of
Professionals STTK, argues strenuously that the cuts must be made in a fair
manner and tax rises must be targeted even-handedly. She reminds us that in
the last two decades the income gap has risen significantly.
Estonian builders trafficked to Finland
(26.01.2012 - link to the web site of Yle News)
High Court's decision improves the status of agency labour
Helsinki (25.01.2012 - Juhani Artto) On Tuesday the High Court made a
decision that clearly improves the status of agency labour, says Katarina
Murto, a bargaining expert at the union confederation SAK.
The decision rejects the legality of the common practice of manpower
agencies to make fixed-term employment agreements based on open-ended
assignments procured from user companies.
The High Court decision upholds the principle, written into the
legislation, that fixed-term employment agreements can be made only in cases
where the employee is needed only for a certain or specific period of time.
In the case,
now settled by the High Court, the need was deemed to be open-ended at the
employment agreement was signed.
Minister sees good employment prospects for municipal employees
JHL (23.01.2012 - Juhani Artto)
There are plenty of job opportunities, now and especially in the future, in
the municipal sector. This is the core message of Henna Virkkunen, the
Minister of Public Administration and Local Government, in her interview
Motiivi, the magazine of the Trade Union for the Public and Welfare Sectors
JHL. A third of the current municipal personnel will retire by 2020 and with
the population ageing rapidly this clearly makes for more demand in terms of
health and social
services, she argues.
With this assurance Virkkunen wants to allay any fears municipal employees
may have towards the profound restructuring of the network of
municipalities now underway by the government of Prime Minister Jyrki
Journalists appreciate open, reliable and reachable labour market leaders
Helsinki (20.01.2012 - Juhani Artto) What kind of experiences have
journalists had, in the course of their work, when dealing with unions and
their leaders? And
what kind of qualities do journalists appreciate when working with union
A recent survey throws some light on these matters. The replies from 178
journalists, working at various levels and in various sectors of media
organizations, leave no doubt as to what journalists appreciate when it
comes to the unions' engagement with
the media. The most important qualities are -in this order- promptness,
openness, reliability, availability, willingness to engage, and being
up-to-date with the issues at hand.
"Shortage" of low-paid part-time workers
(20.01.2012 - link to the web site of Service Union United PAM)
SASK has multiplied its reach during its first 25 years of action
Helsinki (17.01.2012 - Juhani Artto) The Trade Union Solidarity Centre of
Finland SASK recently celebrated its 25th anniversary. I believe that it is
safe to say that the organization has far exceeded the expectations of
the some 40 union representatives who participated in the founding meeting
of SASK on 5 November 1986.
A short summary of SASK's development demonstrates why such a claim is
justified. Its work has significantly expanded and developed when measured
all essential criteria.
JHL wins landmark case in relation to fixed-term employment
JHL (12.01.2012 - Juhani Artto)
The Supreme Court ruled in favour of
the Trade Union for the Public and Welfare Sectors (JHL) in a highly
significant case on Wednesday. The dispute
concerned the use of fixed-term employment in a job that was financed by the
Structural Fund appropriations that were allocated annually to the
According to the Supreme Court, this form of financing does not justify the
use of fixed-term employment contracts when the tasks involved were of a
Presidential elections in Finland:
paraphernalia are mostly made in Far East
Helsinki (05.01.2012 - Heikki
Jokinen) Almost all of the eight candidates in the Finnish presidential
elections, which will take place on January 22nd 2012, have ordered their
campaign gift products from abroad, reports the Industrial Union TEAM. The
campaign pins, mugs, t-shirts, scarves, chocolate and other products are
mainly made in the Far East or in some cases in the other European
countries, TEAM discovered. Print work is more often than not done in
Finland. The chairman of TEAM Timo Vallittu reminds us that employment in
Finland is to a large extent determined by the purchasing decisions of
individuals and organisations. "Small decisions have a major impact on
employment. Business gifts employ especially small companies and are
Disruption to electricity
supply underline vital need
for skilled electricians and lumberjacks
Helsinki (02.01.2011 - Juhani Artto) After Boxing Day there has been an
urgent demand for skilled lumberjacks and electricians. The demand was
created by the storms Finland experienced on Boxing Day and in the days
following. The storms were exceptionally strong for this Northern European
country, and knocked down, according to first estimates, some 3.5 million
cubic meters of trees.
The economic loss for forest owners is estimated to be tens of millions of
but the day-long cuts in electricity supply has been the main focus in the
public domain. When things were at their worst almost 300,000 homes and
other customers were left without electricity. Tens of thousands of
customers had to live without electricity for several days, which is
exceptional in Finland. One week after Boxing Day still about 10,000 homes
suffered of the broken electricity lines.
Economists at the Finnish
union confederations say:
The European Central Bank has to play a central role
in solving the euro
Helsinki (30.12.2011 - Juhani Artto) Economists for the three Finnish union
confederations (Akava, SAK and STTK) published a discussion
paper on the euro crisis one month ago. The 11-page paper examines and
analyses the root causes of the
present crisis and includes several proposals on how to get out of it. The
economists stress the need to safeguard the solvency of the crisis states
and also the need to recapitalise European banks in general.
They consider that the new stability instruments, the EFSF and ESM, are not
sufficiently extensive. However, for economic and political reasons they
cannot be expanded through national budgets. "The only operational
alternative that remains, is to increase the role of the ECB", the
Workers' gender pay gap
narrowed in the industrial sector
Helsinki (29.12.2011 - Juhani Artto) In the second quarter 2011 the average wages for
female workers in
Finnish industry were 84.9 per cent of average wages for male workers. In
one year the gap has slightly narrowed but it was
marginally larger than in the
fourth quarter 2006. In the second quarter 2002 the corresponding figure was 80.5 per cent.
Purchasing power of wage
and salary earners will increase in 2012
Helsinki (28.12.2011 - Juhani Artto) In Finland talk on the economy in the
media has in recent months been very pessimistic despite the fact that
purchasing power for wage
and salary earners is expected to grow in 2012. The constant pessimistic
utterances coming from experts have succeeded in undermining people's
in their own economic and financial viability to such an extent that it
echoes autumn 2008 when recession badly hit European economies.
These gloomy sentiments ignore the prognosis published by the Taxpayers'
Association of Finland (TAF) earlier in December. TAF estimates that wages
and salaries will increase on average by 3.4 per cent, whereas prices
are predicted to rise by 2.6 per cent. As taxes will slightly increase the
real value of wages and salaries will improve on average of
0.6 per cent.
JHL campaigns for equal
rights to people in atypical employment
JHL (27.12.2011 - Juhani Artto)
The Trade Union for the Public and Welfare Sectors JHL began in May 2011 a
campaign for equal rights to people in atypical jobs. The campaign has
chartered its way forward in various forms and in many kind of events.
Just before to Christmas the 2011 campaign reached its climax when a 5-meter
scarf was presented to Lauri Ihalainen, the Minister of Labour and former
President of the
largest union confederation SAK. The scarf was knitted during those events
by hundreds of people, each contributing a small section. Even Tarja Halonen,
the President of the Republic, participated in this knitting-project in
atypically employed people's rights.
Many municipalities plan to recall work that has been outsourced
JHL (14.12.2011 - Juhani Artto)
Many municipalities and joint authorities (set up by two or more local
authorities to tend to specific tasks on a permanent basis) are disappointed
with the results of outsourcing. And the dissatisfaction is so great that up
to a fifth of these public organizations plan to take back outsourced work
so that it can be done once again by their own personnel.
This is one of the major findings from the latest questionnaire directed at
JHL (Trade Union for the Public and Welfare Sectors) shop stewards in
local and joint authorities.
Disability a hindrance also to the labour market
(12.12.2011 - link to the web site of Nordic Labour Journal)
Tax number crackdown on of-the-books builders
(12.12.2011 - link to the web site of Yle News)
third of construction workers in Helsinki region are from abroad
(09.12.2011 - link to the web site of Helsingin Sanomat)
Foreign companies have 215
000 employees in Finland
Helsinki (09.12.2011 - Juhani Artto) Last year, the almost 3,000 affiliates
of foreign companies in Finland employed 215,000 men and women. This adds up
per cent of all company personnel in the country. The share of turnover was
even higher, 20 per cent.
Affiliates of Swedish companies employed over 70,000 persons, U.S. companies
over 20,000 and both UK and German companies slightly below 20,000.
Foreign-owned manufacturing units had some 65,000 employees, wholesale and
retail trade over 40,000. The third largest sector with its 20,000 employees
information and communication. -
The turnover of foreign affiliates grew in 2010, Statistics Finland
re-employs the electricians it sacked arbitrarily
Helsinki (07.12.2011 - Juhani Artto) The Electrical Workers' Union announced
on Friday that it has settled the dispute concerning the arbitrary sacking
of dozens of organized Polish electricians at the Olkiluoto nuclear power
plant construction site. The Polish company Elektrobudowa SA has committed
itself to re-employing all of the electricians it sacked in mid-November.
However, their jobs will not be in Finland but in Poland. Their status will
improve nonetheless, as they will now have permanent employment relations as
opposed to the
temporary arrangement they had in Finland.
Disparity in life expectancy between income quintiles has increased alarmingly
Helsinki (05.12.2011 - Juhani Artto) The life expectancy increased from 1988
to 2007 in all income quintiles except for the lowest one which has
stagnant since the early 1990s. These trends have led to an alarming
disparity in life expectancy between the highest and the lowest
quintiles. At the age of 35, the disparity widened from 7.4 to 12.5 years
among men and from 3.9 to 6.8 years among women. This is the major finding
of a new study made at the University of Helsinki. There was less of an
increase in disparity between occupational social classes and no stagnation
among manual workers was observed. - Click below to view the article on the
study in Lääkärilehti: Tarkiainen-Martikainen-Laaksonen-Valkonen, Tuloluokkien
väliset erot elinajanodotteessa ovat kasvaneet vuosina 1988–2007;
the English language
summary on page 8/8
involvement has alleviated unemployment
in areas of "abrupt structural change"
Helsinki (30.11.2011 - Juhani Artto) Since 2007 the governments have reacted
to abrupt structural changes with a certain set of measures designed to
mitigate the rise in unemployment. A new study* indicates that the method
has had a positive impact. Unemployment has clearly risen after all the
redundancies and closure of factories but gradually, as a result of the
measures adopted, the development has begun to follow the direction of other
parts of the country, the researchers conclude.
Since 2007 altogether 22 areas, as well as the maritime industry, have been
to receive assistance as "areas of abrupt structural change". In almost five
years governments have directed EUR 220 million for this purpose.
Finnish pulp, paper unions make gains
in 2012-2014 industry-wide pacts
(29.11.2011 - link to the web site of ICEM)
The framework agreement will
regulate working conditions
of 94 per cent of wage and salaries earners for next two years
Helsinki (28.11.2011 - Juhani Artto) Early on Monday morning the last
obstacle on the road to the acceptance of a new labour market framework
was overcome. Then the trade union of transport drivers and port
workers AKT and its
employer counterpart agreed on details on how to apply the framework
agreement, approved in October by the labour market confederations.
And so, the same morning these various confederations concluded that support
agreement is broad enough to take effect. At noon the government announced
that it had come to the same conclusion.
This means that all public sector employees and 91 per cent of the private
sector employees are now covered for the next two years (or 25 months) by
regulations agreed upon in the framework agreement.
- Read also:
25-month agreement between labour market confederations will raise wage
and salary earners' purchasing power (14.10.2011)
Financial sector agreement applies the framework agreement
Pro (25.11.2011 - Juhani Artto)
Financial sector bargaining has ended satisfactorily with agreements this
Tuesday that apply
the framework agreement signed in mid-October by the labour market
confederations. This means that the strike, due to begin on Wednesday
and the retaliatory lockout threatened by the employers, will now not go
ahead. And the
overtime ban has been lifted to take immediate effect.
The agreements cover some 23,000 employees, working at banks and other
financial industry work places. They take effect retroactively from November
1 this year and expire on 30 November 2013.
State employees will get pay rises on basis of framework agreement
JHL (23.11.2011 - Juhani Artto)
The new state employees' collective agreement follows the pattern outlined
in the framework agreement, signed in October by labour market
confederations. The agreement takes effect on 1 March 2012 and expires on 31
Wages and salaries of all employees, covered by the agreement, will be
raised on 1 March 2012 by 1.9 per cent. However, the rise has to be at least
EUR 39.50 per month. In March all will also receive a EUR 150 lump sum.
A further pay rise of 1.4 per cent for wage and salary earners, working for
the state, kicks in on 1
On 1 March 2012 and on 1 March 2013 wages and salaries will be raised on
average by 0.5 per cent on the basis of the outcome of local negotiations.
Municipal employees' new collective agreement applies
JHL (23.11.2011 - Juhani Artto)
Negotiators on the new collective agreement for some 350,000 municipal
employees reached common understanding on Wednesday. The end result applies
the framework agreement, signed in mid-October by the labour market
The municipal sector agreement takes effect on 1 January 2012 and expires on
February 2014. The cost impact of the first 13 months will be 2.4 per cent.
On 1 January 2012 all municipal employees will get a pay rise of 1.7 per
The remaining 0.7 per cent of the pay increase will be used for financing
changes in the agreement. These changes include, among other things, six
paid paternity leave and the scrapping of regulations that have
against temporary employees with regard to their annual leave rights. A EUR
150 lump sum will
be paid in January 2012.
Polish company sacks dozens
of organized electricians
from the Olkiluoto nuclear power plant construction site
Helsinki (18.11.2011 - Juhani Artto) The Polish company Elektrobudowa Spolka
Akcyjna has given notice to 32 Polish electricians at the Olkiluoto nuclear
power plant construction site. Most of the sacked workers are rank and file
members of the Finnish Electrical Workers' Union.
According to Finnish unions, the company has let it be known that it will
also dismiss the remaining organized Polish electricians by the end of the
year. At the end of October 190 Elektrobudowa SA's employees were rank and
file members of the Finnish Electrical Workers' Union. The company has
around 360 employees altogether at the Olkiluoto construction site.
Among the sacked electricians were many who earlier this year sued the
company for unpaid salaries.
How do the unions handle the new debate on salary gaps?
(13.11.2011 - link to the web site of Nordic Labour Journal)
Minister of Labour Lauri Ihalainen:
Improved competence will safeguard Finland’s future
(11.11.2011 - link to the web site of Nordic Labour Journal)
Tight schedules speed up negotiations on how to apply the framework
JHL (10.11.2011 - Juhani Artto)
This is a hectic time for the people involved in the collective
bargaining process at the Trade Union for the Public and Welfare Sectors JHL.
deadlines to complete negotiations on how to apply the framework agreement,
signed by the labour market confederations on October 13, are fast
The goal is to have new agreements ready in all sectors, represented by JHL,
by November 24. All other unions that have approved the framework agreement
as their bargaining starting point face the same challenge. The following
labour market confederations will meet and conclude whether the framework
agreement has been approved broadly enough or not. The agreement will take
effect only if the approval rate is regarded as representative. If such a
conclusion cannot be made, the agreement will not bind the government to
honour its commitments i.e. keep its part of the bargain, and the entire
framework agreement will not take
Strike threat in the financial sector:
Employers have not been ready to negotiate on the basis of the framework
Almost 3,000 bank employees will strike from 6 a.m. on November 23
until midnight on November 30, unless the collective bargaining
leads to an
agreement prior to that. The threatened strike action has been announced by
employees' trade union Pro and the bargaining organization of the senior
salaried employees YTN. The overtime ban, declared on Monday, is to continue
and affects the entire financial sector.
The parties have been negotiating a new agreement since early September.
According to Pro's President, Antti Rinne, the disagreements concern both
salaries and qualitative regulations on working conditions. Unlike
employers in most other industries, financial sector employers have not
been willing to negotiate on the basis of the framework agreement, signed in
October by the labour market confederations.
Introduction of stock
options and low taxation on capital incomes have
caused a swift and sharp widening of the income gap
Helsinki (09.11.2011 - Timo-Erkki Heino) For a long time after World War
II and up until the mid-1990s Finland was often described as "a moderate
then came an abrupt change. Income inequalities, which had slowly been
diminishing during this period,
started to increase rapidly.
The roots for this income divide can be traced back to two decisions taken
during the early 1990s' recession and banking crisis.
In 1993 the centre-right government introduced the so-called dual income
taxation. This meant that earned income, wages and salaries, continued to
be taxed progressively, which for top earners was rather high. However,
capital income, i.e. income from stock or share dividends and capital gains
taxed at a very low flat tax rate of 25 per cent.
The second reason for the mid-1990s' great divide was the introduction of
stock options as compensation or bonuses for CEOs and top management in
Finnish companies, in keeping with practises elsewhere around the world.
YTN technology industry news: A fair solution
(07.11.2011 - link to the web site of Akava)
for striking managerial staff
in technology industry
Helsinki (05.11.2011 - Juhani Artto) The striking managerial staff in the
Finnish technology industry has received support from the International
Metalworkers' Federation IMF and the European Metalworkers' Federation EMF.
In its message to the trade unions that represent the 10,000 strikers IMF
states: "The IMF fully supports your demands for same wage increases that
were achieved a week ago in collective bargaining negotiations for other
workers in the Finnish technology industry. Employers cannot unilaterally
decide at the local level who gets wage increases. Compensation pay for
salaried workers when travelling outside of working hours is fair and
A new study on OECD
"The decline in the
labour share is highly likely due, at least partly, to the weakened
bargaining power of labour"
Helsinki (05.11.2011) "According to the results presented in this paper, it
is clear that there has been a trend-like decline in the labour share in
most major OECD countries at an unchanged rate of unemployment", Pekka
Sauramo writes in a new study, published recently by the Labour
Institute for Economic Research. "The interpretation of this kind of decline
is not straightforward, but it is highly likely due, at least partly, to the
weakened bargaining power of labour", Sauramo concludes. - Read the
entire study: (a 29-page pdf-file):
The relationship between labour share and unemployment: the role of
"No more pay for women
Helsinki (27.10.2011 - Juhani Artto) On 26 October the union confederation
STTK drew attention once again to how slowly the gender pay gap is being
narrowed and how much still
remains to be done to eliminate it. The timing for this reminder was not
chosen randomly but consciously.
On 26 October 82 per cent of this year had passed and in Finland, on
average, women earn 82 per cent of men's wages and salaries. And so STTK
decided it was an opportune moment to generate a bit of publicity for a
worthy cause by declaring on 26 October "no more pay for women this year".
Media publicity was guaranteed.
JHL's new President criticizes the British concept of "Big Society"
JHL (27.10.2011 - Juhani Artto)
"The Big Society seems to have small services", JHL's new President Jarkko
Eloranta concludes in his column in JHL's magazine Motiivi. The Big
Society Eloranta refers to is the slogan chosen by the British Prime
Cameron and his Conservative Party.
"The empowerment of communities and individuals sounds very positive,
providing a veneer of idealism to
the Big Society concept ", Eloranta writes. "But, in reality what really
lies behind the Big Society idea concerns the economy: the need and
especially the desire to cut taxes which will inevitably result in cuts to
public services and social welfare."
Finnish metal strike over
(25.10.2011 - link to the web site of IMF)
The framework agreement will improve employees’ security
amidst changes in
A summary of the framework agreement
The framework agreement, signed by the labour market confederations,
includes a framework for pay rises and measures aimed at improving the
quality of working life. The goal of the agreement is to increase the
power of salaried and wage earners, to enhance employment while at the same
time adding an element of
predictability, and thus stability, to the economy.
The board of the union confederation STTK approved the framework agreement unanimously on October 13.
Strike begins in the technology industry:
Both unions and
employers turned down the proposal of the National Conciliator
Helsinki (21.10.2011 - Juhani Artto) About 30,000 salaried and wage
employees at 37 technology industry companies began a strike 6 a.m. on
Friday. The proposal put forward by the National Conciliator, Esa Lonka, was
rejected by both the employers and the three unions representing the
employees. The unions involved in the dispute are the private sector
salaried employees' union Pro, the Metalworkers' Union and the Electrical
Workers' Union. The major stumbling block was the pay structure presented by
the National Conciliator. The Metalworkers' Union wants a solution whereby a
large part of the pay rise awards translate as equal amounts of cents for
all with the locally negotiable share of the pay rises remaining minimal. In
his statement Pro's President Antti Rinne says that the proposal did not
guarantee equal minimum pay rises to all and that too large a share of the
pay rises was left at the employers discretion.
Pro now negotiates on how
to apply the framework agreement
signed by the labour market confederations
Pro (18.10.2011 - Juhani Artto)
On Saturday Pro and the Metalworkers' Union approved the framework
agreement, signed by the labour market confederations, as the framework for
their collective bargaining in various industries.
If these two unions, representing employees in the technology industry - the
largest export sector in Finland - had turned down the framework
agreement, the entire agreement would have collapsed. In the Metalworkers'
Union 38 delegates voted for approval of the framework agreement, and 12
delegates voted against it.
Bargaining in the technology industry continued on Monday. The National
Conciliator is involved in efforts to resolve disagreements. The overtime
ban, announced by the concerned union organizations is still in effect and
covers the entire technology industry.
The schedule for these negotiations is very tight.
The 25-month agreement
between labour market confederations will raise wage and
salary earners' purchasing power
Helsinki (14.10.2011 - Juhani Artto) For the first time in four years the
labour market confederations agreed on Thursday to a centralized collective
agreement. Economists belonging to the confederations expect the 25-month
agreement to slightly improve the purchasing power of wage and salary
The agreement includes two pay rises (2.4 per cent and 1.9 per cent), a EUR
150 lump sum and several changes in working life regulations. In addition,
the government has promised to make the agreement more attractive by tax
cuts for both employees and companies together with a few other measures.
So now, the ultimate fate of the agreement rests with the unions and
employer organizations. The agreement will not come into effect unless a
substantial proportion of the national unions and their opposite numbers
from the employer
organizations can agree on sector based collective agreements, respecting
the framework set up by the confederations.
proposal threatens to cut already low wages
by hundreds of euros at Defence Forces' catering services
JHL (12.10.2011 - Juhani Artto) Wages for the Defence Forces' catering
services will shrink by anything between EUR200 to EUR400 per month, if the
government's proposal is approved by Parliament. This is totally
unacceptable and contradicts the government's own programme, says the Trade
Union for the Public and Welfare Services JHL. Parliament is due to make the
final decision on the matter in December.
Disagreement on pay rises brings to an end confederation level collective
Helsinki (05.10.2011 - Juhani Artto) Negotiations for a comprehensive
income policy agreement ended on Tuesday after failure to reach agreement on
pay rises. The
two employer confederations (Confederation of Finnish Industries EK and
Local Government Employers KT) offered 2.4 per cent for the first 13 months
and 1.9 per cent for the following 12 months.
The union confederations SAK and STTK turned down the proposal as too low.
The third union confederation Akava would have liked to continue the
bargaining process and wait and see what kind of tax cuts Prime Minister
would promise to smoothen the path towards a confederation level agreement.
Pro and Metalworkers'
Union and Electrical Workers' Union issue warning of strike action
Helsinki (05.10.2011 - Juhani Artto)
The trade union of private sector salaried employees Pro, the
and the Electrical Workers' Union announced on Tuesday of their intention to go on strike at 44 companies in
industry. Over 32,000 salaried and wage employees will take part in the
strike from 21
October to 7 November if the parties fail to reach new collective
Rautaruukki subcontractor ordered to pay Polish workers thousands of euros
in back wages
(04.10.2011 - link to the web site of Helsingin Sanomat)
Union: Embassies exploit workers
(04.10.2011 - link to the web site of Yle News)
Government tries to
implement zero tolerance policy towards
Helsinki (30.09.2011 - Juhani Artto) The Finnish six-party coalition
government is taking an ambitious stance towards youth unemployment. The
goal is to get rid of it! This has been clearly outlined in the government
programme and its implementation was launched last Monday, when the "youth
social guarantee" task force was officially named and given wings.
The promise or guarantee is to offer every young person below 25 years of
age and every recent graduate below 30 years of age, either a job, place to
study, apprenticeship or rehabilitation. And the aim is for this to happen
within three months from the beginning of the unemployment. The system
should be functioning properly and smoothly by 2013.
Unions oppose cuts to job alternation leave compensation
Helsinki (28.09.2011 - Juhani Artto) All three Finnish union confederations
- Akava, SAK and STTK - oppose the government's plan to cut compensation to
employees who opt for job alternation leave. The government intends to cut
the alternation leave compensation by 10 to 20 per cent from its present
level. Employees on job alternation leave are entitled to compensation
of anything between 70 - 80 per cent of unemployment benefit.
The confederations are afraid that the planned cuts to compensation
would make it difficult, especially for employees in low-pay jobs, to make
of the system of job alternation leave.
The proposal made by the government would mean a saving in government
of approximately EUR7.5 million. - Read more:
Job alternation leave, Guide to working in Finland
applicability of sectoral collective agreements in Finland
- A presentation by SAK's expert Jari Hellsten
(27.09.2011 - link to the web site of WSI)
Electrical workers' union puts in court claims for millions of euros
respect of 115
Helsinki (26.09.2011 - Juhani Artto) The Finnish Electrical workers' union
suing the Polish company Elektrobudowa for unpaid wages, overtime
compensation and holiday pay and unpaid
compensation for expenses. The claim amounts to over EUR2.7
million which has
accrued from January 2009 to May 2011 at the construction site of the Olkiluoto nuclear power plant. The claim concerns 115 Polish electricians
who have joined the Finnish union.
Prayer ban in break room not discrimination
(23.09.2011 - link to the web site of Yle News)
Polish workers at Olkiluoto earning slave wages
(23.09.2011 - link to the web site of Yle News)
Jarkko Eloranta elected unanimously as JHL's new President
JHL (23.09.2011 - Juhani Artto)
Jarkko Eloranta, 45, is the new President of the Trade Union for the Public
and Welfare Sectors JHL. He was elected on Thursday at an extraordinary
meeting of the Union Council. The election was unanimous. The post became
vacant when the long-time President, Tuire Santamäki-Vuori, was appointed
Secretary of State to the Minister of Finance, Jutta Urpilainen. Eloranta
had been JHL's Vice-President since 2007.
His term as president will continue until June 2012. Then the Union Council - to be elected by
ballot in March 2012 - will face the task of electing the top leaders of the
Nokia pays most of its employees in India well below a living wage
Helsinki (19.09.2011 - Juhani Artto)
What does one do if the wage for full-time employment is not enough to cover
costs of even a small family? This is an urgent question in Sriperumbudur in
Southern India where Nokia and its subcontractors employ tens of thousands
of workers in the manufacturing of mobile phones and related jobs.
Nokia's contract workers and trainees are paid no more than EUR70 per month.
At the two Foxconn factories they receive EUR80 per month. Contract workers'
and trainees' wages at Flextronics and Salcomp are approximately on a par
with the other two.
It is not unimportant how much contract workers and trainees are paid as a
majority of employees belong to these categories. Among Nokia's personnel
make up slightly less than half of all employees but a clear majority at
Foxconn, Salcomp and Flextronics.
Joint bargaining effort by
wage and salary earners' union organizations in the technology industry
Helsinki (16.09.2011 - Juhani Artto) Three union organizations, representing
some 250,000 wage and salary earners in the technology industry, have agreed
on common goals and pledged to act in unison during this current round of
This move is nothing short of historic as it is the first time that these
separate employee groups have sought to combine forces in this way.
The three organizations in question are the Metalworkers' Union, the
union Pro and the bargaining organization of senior salaried employees YTN.
They are aiming at a one and a half year agreement during which there would
be a two-stage pay rise. The first of these would mean an increase of
EUR0.67 per hour or EUR110 per month. For employees in the higher pay
bracket the rise should be at least 4 per cent.
Finland hunts for a new salary model
(07.09.2011 - link to the web site of Nordic Labour Journal)
Binding regulations are needed on human resources
in old people's care
JHL (01.09.2011 - Juhani Artto)
An act on how to ensure that elderly people get the care they need is under
preparation. A draft was finalized back in the spring but it was not sent to
the Parliament prior to the Parliamentary elections held in April. The new
government promises in its programme to bring its proposed law before the
Parliament. However, it will not be the draft from last spring as Maria
Guzenina-Richardson, the Minister of Health and Social Services wants
changes to the draft.
Discussion on how to develop the draft is now going on. Teija
Asara-Laaksonen, the 2. Vice President of the JHL,
mentions two elements
lacking from the draft. According to her the act should include binding
regulations on the minimum size of human resources in the open services and
on the self-determination of the elderly people in question.
Mass redundancies and scare tactics colour
the start of the new round of
Helsinki (01.09.2011 - Juhani Artto) The summer vacations are now over and
labour market organizations are sharpening their weapons for the new round
of collective bargaining. Naturally, the employers are trying to take
advantage of the uncertain economic
outlook by painting the future with dark colours and more ominously by also
drastic redundancies. On the other side of the battlefield trade unions are
doing their utmost to encourage
their rank and file members by drawing on data that throw serious doubt on
the signals being sent out by
Economic forecast 2011-2012
(30.08.2011 - link to the web site of Labour Institute for Economic
JHL to elect its new President by the end of September
JHL (30.08.2011 - Juhani Artto) The Trade Union for the Public and Welfare Sectors JHL will get a new
President at the end of September, when the Union Council will hold an
extraordinary meeting for this purpose. The term of the new President will
last until June 2012 when the new Union Council will elect the President for
a five-year term.
The current President Tuire Santamäki-Vuori has been appointed Secretary of
State to the Minister of Finance and will take up her duties as the highest
official below the minister on September 1.
Santamäki-Vuori announced in May that she would not be seeking re-election
for a new term as President of the JHL.
Labour market confederations
search for a framework for collective
bargaining in various industries
Helsinki (29.08.2011 - Juhani Artto) The employer stronghold, the
of Finnish Industries EK announced on Thursday that its goal is to reach in
the export industry "a responsible agreement that shows the direction for
collective bargaining in other industries".
Union federations were quick to turn down this proposal. Akava's President
Sture Fjäder pointed out that EK is not in a position to dictate or impose
public sector solutions, as it
is not even one of the organizations that participate in public sector
SAK's President Lauri Lyly also rejected EK's proposal by saying: "We are
offered the role of a pay police, not the one of a negotiator". And STTK's
President Mikko Mäenpää joined the chorus by criticising EK for ignoring the
basic goals of
the trade union movement.
Changes to immigrant integration law coming up
(26.08.2011 - link to the web site of Yle News)
Far higher levels of pay
makes Finnish labour market
attractive for Estonians
Helsinki (19.08.2011 - Juhani Artto) In Northern Europe, there is a huge pay
gap between two neighbouring countries, Finland and Estonia. Despite
Estonia's rapid economic development since its declaration of independence
in August 1991 average wages and salaries in Finland are several times
higher than those in Estonia. The latter country of 1.3 million inhabitants
long, uphill struggle if it is to reach its aspirations by 2020 - in terms
GNP per capita – and take its place alongside Europe's top-5 countries, as
Prime minister Andrus Ansip
envisioned in February.
STTK rejects additional budget cuts
The government should postpone budget cutbacks rather than plan additional
the Finnish Confederation of Professionals STTK concluded on Wednesday. The
same logic should be applied to taxes. Tax rises should be postponed to
a later date. Budget cuts and tax rises will only have a negative impact on
domestic demand and thus weaken employment, STTK warns.
As economic growth seems to be slowing down it is important to support
domestic employment and growth, STTK argues. It says that European debt
crisis stresses good management of the public economy.
JHL's President Tuire Santamäki-Vuori chosen as Secretary of State to
the Minister of Finance
JHL (15.08.2011 - Juhani Artto)
JHL's President Tuire Santamäki-Vuori, 58, is to be appointed Secretary
of State to the Minister of Finance, Jutta Urpelainen. She will take up her
duties as the
highest official below the minister on September 1. The appointment covers
the term of the minister.
Santamäki-Vuori announced in May that she will not be seeking re-election
new term as President of the JHL. A new union president will be elected in
June 2012 by the Union Council.
JHL announced on Thursday that the tasks of JHL's President have temporarily
been handed over to Jarkko Eloranta, 45, who has been number two in
the organization since 2007. On August 25 JHL's board will finalise
arrangements for the period up until the June 2012 meeting of the Union
Foreigners living in
Finland are much younger
than Finnish nationals
Helsinki (12.08.2011 - Juhani Artto) In 2010, the average age of Finnish
nationals was 42.4 years, slightly above the EU-27 average (41.5). On
foreigners and foreign-born people living in Finland are much younger. The
average figures for the above are 32.9 and 34.3 respectively, whereas the
figures for EU-27 are 34.4
As Finland suffers from an ageing population it is fair to say that
Finnish society and its labour market have benefited from immigration.
The Finnish trade unions are well aware of this and welcome immigrant labour
to work in Finland as long as Finnish legislation and Finnish collective
agreements are applied to their working conditions.
Employer tries to circumvent working hour legislation by encouraging
employees to form cooperatives
JHL (08.08.2011 - Juhani Artto)
Raasepori is a town with a population of 29,000 situated on the Southern
coast of Finland.
And now the town council is encouraging family child-minders, employed by
the town, to give up their
current status and form cooperatives, established by themselves.
According to the Trade Union for the Public and Welfare Sectors JHL, Märta
Wikström, Raasepori's director for the day-care sector, admits that this
the town is an attempt to circumvent the working hour legislation.
Steel workers end walk out over cheap labour use
(06.08.2011 - link to the web site of Yle News)
Steelworkers protest against
wage dumping concerning
Polish construction workers
Helsinki (05.08.2011 - Juhani Artto) Over one thousand employees at the
Rautaruukki steel plant in Raahe join in the two-day strike action
that began on Thursday morning. The employees seek to demonstrate their
with the Polish workers who have been repairing a blast furnace at the
plant since June.
The Polish workers are victims of wage dumping, the Finnish Construction
Union claims. The masons should be paid at least EUR15.54 per hour but their
wage is EUR4 per hour or even less. This became apparent last week when
authorities inspected the plant. In addition, the eleven-hour work days
without days of rest - that these Polish workers are expected to do - is a
serious breach of the legislation governing working hours.
A fifth of all hotel chambermaids have experienced
Helsinki (31.07.2011 - Juhani Artto) The case against ex-IMF chief Dominique
Strauss-Kahn's brings to light the risk of sexual harassment
chambermaids working in hotels face daily. In Finland, studies conducted by
the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health have repeatedly documented that
sexual harassment is more common in the hotel and catering sector than in
any other industry. Around one tenth of hotel and catering sector
employees have experienced sexual harassment at work, the Institute's
Amongst hotel chambermaids the problem may be even more prevalent. A clear
indication that this is so comes from a recent mini-survey conducted by
PAM, the magazine of the Service
Union United PAM. The magazine mailed its questionnaire to some 500
organized chambermaids. Twenty-five per cent replied and twenty per cent of
respondents claimed to have experienced sexual harassment at their places of
in various hotels around the country.
Pro's Rinne: One must not bow down to violent deeds
- Trade union Pro expresses its deep condolences for the grief of Norwegians
President Antti Rinne expresses on behalf of the trade union Pro condolences
for the political terrorist act that has shocked Norway and people all
Rinne is adamant that people must not bow down to violent deeds. We must
continue the work for social development, based on freedom, mutual
responsibility and equality, he insists.
Read the president of the
trade union Pro, Antti Rinne's message of condolence in full.
It is time to consider standing for JHL's Union Council
JHL (21.07.2011 - Juhani Artto)
The Union Council is JHL's supreme policymaking body. It consists of 120
representatives elected for five years by direct ballot. The next election
take place from 12 to 28 March 2012. For the ballot the country is divided
Anybody who has become a JHL rank and file member by the end of July 2011 is
eligible to stand. The candidates on the ballot are elected at meetings of
local chapters. The meetings must take place between 1 October 2011 and 31
There is also another way to become a candidate. That happens by forming an
electorate association that approves the candidacy of the rank and file
Reaction to extreme wage dumping:
Considerable number of Polish electricians join the Finnish union
Helsinki (17.07.2011 - Juhani Artto) The Electrical Workers' Union
has good news from the construction site
of the Olkiluoto 3 nuclear power plant on the Finnish West Coast. More and
more Polish electricians have come to realise that they are being badly
exploited by their Polish employers and have joined the Finnish Electrical Workers' Union. From Elektrobudowa alone, over one hundred Polish electricians are now rank and
of the union and benefit from its legal advice and other services. Thus, a
of the company's electricians at the Olkiluoto site are now organized.
Employers disturb almost half of foremen during their vacation
Helsinki (11.07.2011 - Juhani Artto) The from four to six week vacations
enjoyed by Finnish wage and salary earners rank high among the achievements of the Finnish
trade union movement. However,
nowadays employers often interfere with vacationers' well-earned leisure
contacting them with various requests. Mobile phones and mobile net
connections have made it technically easy for employers to contact their
employees whenever the need arises.
A new survey made by the salaried employees' trade union Pro gives a
detailed picture on how often these interventions take place. Among private
sector salaried employees, in the worst case scenarios are
foremen/supervisors, as employers are likely to
contact 41 per cent of them during their vacation. On average 28 per cent of
the private sector salaried employees can expect to be disturbed during
their vacation by
JHL opens up special web site on working conditions in atypical jobs
JHL (07.07.2011 )
In the 2000s working conditions for employees in atypical jobs have improved
but they still do not have the same rights and benefits as the permanently
employed, full-time employees. The Trade Union for the Public and Welfare
Sector JHL has been in the forefront in the fight for equal rights of
employees in atypical jobs.
In late June JHL began to use a new tool in this fight. The union opened up
a special web site on atypical employment issues. The Finnish language
material sets out to explain some basic facts on working conditions for
employees in various
forms of atypical employment. The material covers all the major groups of
atypical employment: fixed-term employment, part-time work, self-employment
and agency labour. In Finland about 700,000 men and women work in atypical
forms of employment. That makes up almost 30 per cent of the present labour
of 2.5 million.
Atypical jobs offer poorer vacation rights
Helsinki (07.07.2011 - Juhani Artto) Trade unions want employees in atypical
jobs to have identical rights as wage and salary earners in permanent
full-time jobs. However, regulations on working conditions in atypical jobs
still fall short of this demand.
This is true also concerning the length of annual leave. "The logic is
this: The shorter the employment relation is and the more it diverges from
typical employment relation, the poorer the annual leave rights are",
Anu-Hanna Anttila, a sociologist from the University of Turku, writes on
SAK's web site.
The government aims to create 90 000 new jobs
Helsinki (01.07.2011 - Juhani Artto) Raising the employment rate to about 72
per cent from the present level - clearly below 70 per cent - is one of the
cornerstones of the strategy of the new government, led by Prime Minister
Jyrki Katainen from the National Coalition Party. (click to the graph on
employment rate 1989-2011 -
http://www.findikaattori.fi/41/). According to
the new labour minister Lauri Ihalainen (former President of the union
confederation SAK) reaching this goal demands the creation of 90 000 new
the next four years.
In the present economic environment the goal is very ambitious and many
vulnerabilities shadow the road leading to the goal. It is fair to say many
regarded this goal as unrealistic. But trade unions are totally committed in
their support for the plan to improve
Berry pickers get advice in four languages
(28.06.2011 - link to the web site of SAK)
Unions: Better competitiveness should mean better pay
(27.06.2011 - link to the web site of Yle News)
government programme taxes high incomes more heavily than before
(21.06.2010 - link to the web site of Helsingin Sanomat)
Trade unions satisfied with
the new government programme
Helsinki (20.06.2011 - Juhani Artto) The basic
line of the new government programme is acceptable to the trade unions. This indisputable conclusion
may be drawn from early comments made by the Presidents of the three union
confederations (Akava, SAK, STTK) and also from the reactions of Presidents
of several large national trade unions, such as JHL and PRO. The 89-page programme consists not only of general outlines with respect to
future policy but numerous concrete solutions. The government is determined
to put an end to growing inequality and bring about at least a modest
improvement in the standard of living of poor people. The spike in the
budget deficit will be slowed down significantly and unemployment will
decrease, assuming that the fairly brisk economic growth continues. Trade
union leaders regard trends of this nature as necessary and fair.
Pro's President Antti Rinne:
Working life element
of the new government programme is well balanced
Helsinki (20.06.2011 - Juhani Artto)
The new government programme includes several goals held dear by Pro, such
as working life regulation, more training during working hours and
Trade Union Pro regards the new government programme as providing a good
basis for the development of working life and extended working careers. "The working life aspect of the programme is well balanced and directs
discussion on how to extend working careers into measurable, tangible
realities", Antti Rinne, the President of Pro proclaims.
JHL is satisfied with the
general direction of the new government programme but criticizes cuts in
financing of municipal services
Helsinki (20.06.2011 - Juhani Artto) Tuire Santamäki-Vuori, the President of
the Trade Union for Public and Welfare Sectors JHL, regards the new
government programme as decent considering the difficult starting points of
JHL welcomes the plan to develop the structure of municipalities so
that stronger municipalities - in contrast to the current situation - would be
responsible for organising services. JHL is also grateful for the decision
to offer municipal employees proper job security when carrying out
structural changes after 2013. The existing job security guarantees were due
to end in 2013.
ILO plays an active role in the Arab world
‑ interview with Kari Tapiola, ILO
Helsinki (17.06.2011 ‑ Juhani Artto) "Recent events in
the Arab world came as much of a surprise to us, and no doubt to everyone
else too", says Kari Tapiola* who works as a special adviser to ILO's
Director‑General Juan Somavia. In the last few months Tapiola has mainly
been working on issues arising from ILO's involvement in the Arab countries. The ILO has a long history in many parts of the Arab
world. Within the region there is a huge need for assistance revolving
around issues covered by the ILO's mandate: employment, social justice,
trade union rights etc. The changes now taking place will most certainly add
to requests for ILO's services, Tapiola goes on.
SAK comes out strong and united from its 18th Congress
Tampere (08.06.2011 - Juhani
Artto) SAK, the union confederation formed by 21 national unions with over
one million rank and file members, updated its action program at the 18th
Congress held on 6-8 June in Tampere. The context of the Congress was widely
reported in English by SAK itself. The material was produced in cooperation
with the Trade Union News from Finland. Click
here for news, interviews and analysis from the Congress.
General discussion at the SAK Congress:
Affiliated unions broadly agree on confederation's line
Tampere (07.06.2011 - Juhani Artto) The speeches at the SAK Congress general discussion - altogether some 70
contributions – conveyed convincing evidence that the "SAK movement" has
reached a broad consensus on its goals and the means to achieve them. This
is not to say that there aren’t any disagreements. There certainly are, but
they do not divide the movement into warring factions and it is safe to say
any disagreements over strategy or tactics are handled in a concrete and
Ralf Sund, STTK:
"It is possible to simultaneously decrease income gaps
and balance the State
STTK (06.06.2011) Although the
parliamentary elections were held on April 17, Finland is still without a
new government in early June. “What has gone wrong in the negotiations?”
Ralf Sund, the economic policy expert of the union confederation STTK, in
his recent column in the daily newspaper Kaleva. “The unclear
state of the Finnish economy is much to blame for the slow progress in the
negotiations,” says Sund.
Wage and salary
earners' real incomes are now decreasing
after a long period of steady increase
Helsinki (01.06.2011 - Juhani Artto) Statistics for the 2011 January-March
quarterly period show that the real incomes of wage and salary earners were
1.0 per cent below the level for January-March 2010. It was back in
July-September 2007 when quarterly statistics showed the last previous
negative trend, but one has to go back to 1993 to find negative figures on
an annual basis. When trying to assess 2011 as a whole, current data
available suggests negative growth in respect of the real value of wages and
salaries. Collective agreements signed since August 2010 have meant lower
pay rises when measured against inflation.
Akava elects an experienced lobbyist Sture Fjäder
as its new President
Helsinki (27.05.2011 - Juhani Artto) Akava, the union confederation that
represents teachers and a broad spectrum of academic professionals elected a
new President on Wednesday. He is Sture
Fjäder, 53. He has been an Akava's board member since 1995 and has worked in
different capacities for SEFE, The Finnish Association of Business School
Graduates, since 1989. Recently, he was named as SEFE's Head of Policy
Akava consists of 34 affiliated unions, totalling 550,000 rank and file
members. Membership has more than doubled in last two decades.
Older than 45 - too old in current job market?
(23.05.2010 - link to the web site of YLE News)
SAK wants lowest pay to be raised to EUR1,800 per month by 2016
Helsinki (23.05.2011 - Juhani Artto) The union confederation SAK is set to
approve EUR1,800 per month as its next goal for minimum pay. This proposal
is included in the draft action program 2011-2016 for the SAK Congress on
June 6-8 in Tampere. The idea is to reach the goal by 2016. In real terms this would bring it into line with the norm set by the EU in
its Social Charter. According to the latter a wage or salary is decent when
the after-tax or net income is at least 60 per cent of the national median
pay. At the moment the lowest acceptable pay should be close to EUR1,600 per
month if the norm is respected. Unfortunately, this is not the situation.
There are still employees, holding down full-time jobs, who receive less
than EUR1,500 per month - SAK's minimum pay goal in recent years.
JHL thanks the City of Espoo for taking a stand
against grey economy
JHL (23.05.2011) The Trade Union for the Public and Welfare Sectors JHL is pleased with the
steps taken recently by Espoo City Council to tighten up on the control of
the services it purchases. Espoo, with its 250,000 inhabitants, is the
second largest city in Finland.
Just a few months ago, there were reports that
companies, which had been caught for flagrant tax evasion and
usury-type work discrimination, were
still cleaning schools and day-care centres for the city. Now, Espoo
has also begun to cooperate with the police and the tax authorities to stop
the illegal use of labour. And a special fee, for breaching agreements, has
been added to the cleaning services contracts.
Technology Industries put
industrial peace at risk by arrogance
Pro (23.05.2011) The Trade Union Pro and The Federation of Finnish
Technology Industries began collective bargaining on salaries for 2011 on
April 19. It was agreed that the parties would try to reach an agreement by
the end of May.
On May 4 Pro gave the employer side its proposal for salary increases.
Salaries should be raised by EUR90 per month, or by at least 3.5 per cent.
However, on May 20 employer negotiators announced that Pro's demands differ
so widely from the employers' ideas that they could not put forward any
proposal for salary rises under the circumstances.
A follow-up card for workers exposed to asbestos
Helsinki (17.05.2011 - Juhani Artto) Experts estimate that about 200,000
Finns have been exposed to asbestos. At least 10,000 of them have succumbed
asbestos-caused illnesses, and in recent years around one hundred
have died annually as victims of asbestos exposure during their working
lives. At this point in time the number of serious illnesses related to
asbestos is approaching the top-most level. Now a new tool has been
introduced to make it easier to find out the true cause of an
This tool is a follow-up card. It is filled with data on exposure and on
possible occupational disease. All follow-up health checks and their results
and plans for the future treatment are written on the card.
Finnish paper: Walk-outs intensify because of strike-breaking
(13.05.2010 - link to the web site of ICEM)
Why should a cleaner learn Finnish?
(13.05.2010 - link to the web site of PAM)
security for self-employed must be improved
JHL/Trunf - Helsinki (06.05.2011 - Heikki Jokinen, Juhani Artto)
A fairly new item on the agenda of the Trade Union for the Public and
Welfare Sectors JHL is safeguarding the interests of those who are
But before delving deeper into this, we should note some basic facts
concerning the situation of the self-employed in Finnish society today. Some
160,000 people earn their living as self-employed persons, which makes up
seven per cent of the total labour force - far less than in many other EU
member states. In the last two years the number of self-employed in Finland
has grown by 20,000.
Only a few years ago not many trade unions paid much attention to the
interests of the self-employed but more recently an increasing number of
organisations have begun to elaborate their policy on safeguarding the
interests of this heterogeneous group. The reasons for this are obvious
enough, as those engaged in self-employment have managed to penetrate
most industries in one way or another.
Mediation fails in Finnish paper strike:
(03.05.2010 - link to the web site of ICEM)
Labour confederations open help line for summer workers
(02.05.2010 - link to the web site of SAK)
More cases under investigation:
Hungarian condemned for usurpy-type work discrimination
Helsinki (02.05.2011 - Juhani
The representative of the Hungarian employment agency Èszak-Èke Kft has been
engaged in usurpy-type work discrimination in Finland, the District Court of
Pirkanmaa concluded in early April. The company had employed Hungarian
employees to work in a metal working company in Parkano in Western Finland
and paid them a monthly wage from EUR517 to EUR595. According to the
collective agreement of the technology industry they should have been paid a
monthly wage of about EUR1400.
23 rank and file
members of the JHL elected
to the new Finnish Parliament
JHL (28.04.2011 - Juhani Artto) The April 17 parliamentary elections in
Finland proved highly successful for members of the Trade Union for the
Public and Welfare Sectors JHL. Out of the JHL 113 candidates who stood, no
less than 23 were elected to the 200-seat parliament. 17 are Social
Democrats. 4 represent the Left Alliance, one the True Finns and one the
Centre Party. These MPs and members of the JHL come from all major regions
of the country. In fact, most members of the new Parliament are rank and
file members of trade unions. The figure is over 120. This is not new as the
Parliaments elected in 2007 and in 2003 also had a majority of MPs organized
in trade unions.
Finnish paper strike heats up - further help needed
(26.04.2010 - link to the web site of ICEM)
Most MPs of the new
Parliament are rank and file members
of trade unions
Helsinki (24.04.2011 - Juhani Artto) Big changes characterise the April 17
Parliamentary elections in Finland, but - as in the previous Parliament - a
clear majority of the MPs are rank and file members of trade unions. Over
120 of the 200 MPs have union affiliation.
Some 60 MPs are members in the unions that are affiliated members of the
highly educated employees' confederation Akava. At least 39 MPs are rank and
file members in unions of the union confederation SAK and 22 MPs in unions
of the salaried employees' union confederation STTK. In addition, several
journalists, organized in the independent Union of Journalists in Finland,
The truth about the election winners - the True Finns
Helsinki (24.04.2011 - Juhani Artto) The rise of the True Finns as a
political force in the April 17 Parliamentary election is by far the
greatest and most overwhelming change to affect the Finnish political scene
in over 60 years. The True Finns gained an astonishing 34 new seats in the
200 seat parliament, bringing their total to 39 (they held 5 seats during
the last parliament).
In many foreign commentaries the True Finns have been characterized as a
party of xenophobic, nationalist, anti-EU, populist and extreme right-wing
people, but, in my view, it is a bit too early to make such a sweeping
judgement. There are indeed grounds for applying such labels but they may
also serve to create wrong or distorted images among people who are not
well aware of how Finnish society functions.
Leila Kostiainen, the General Secretary of the STTK:
Employment issues at the forefront of the government programme
STTK (24.04.2011) Although the result of the Parliamentary election was a
something of a surprise, Leila Kostiainen, the General Secretary of the
STTK, believes that STTK will enjoy good cooperation with the next
always strives to have good cooperation with the government regardless what
parties have formed it. And so it will be now also. We do not foresee any
obstacles to this being the case."
Kostiainen expects the inter-party negotiations to lead to a majority
government that will be able, together with the labour market organizations,
to push the economy forward.
Polish engineering firm concedes to Finland's Metalliliitto
at nuclear plant
(18.04.2010 - link to the web site of ICEM)
Almost 3,000 TeliaSonera salaried employees set to initiate strike
Although up to 300 jobs are under threat, measures to soften the impact of
losing one's job in Finland, are not as effective as in Sweden.
Salaried employees at the teleoperator, TeliaSonera Finland (TSF) will begin
their second strike in April in response to the company's plan to cut up to
300 jobs. An open-ended overtime ban, covering the entire TSF, has been
effective as of Thursday morning.
The strike begins on April 18 at 6 a.m. and will last for four days.
Salaried employees at all 16 TSF units around the country will be out on
And, additionally, over 250 salaried employees of TSF's subcontractors and
companies providing TSF with agency labour will join the strike. These
companies are GoExcellent, Manpower Business Solutions, Staffpoint and
majority of Finns oppose privatisation of
"a significant proportion"
of public services
JHL (14.04.2011 - Juhani Artto)
Finns do not regard the privatisation of public services as a viable
solution to society’s problems. Regardless of gender, age, place of residence,
political orientation or status in working life a large majority say NO
to privatisation of "a significant proportion" of public services. This
conclusion is among the major results in the recent opinion survey, carried
out by TNS-Gallup and commissioned by the Trade Union for the Public and
Only 16 per cent of the respondents agreed with the claim "A significant
proportion of public services should be outsourced to private companies". 76
per cent disagreed with the claim. A similar divide between support and
opposition was also found among both men and women and among people living
in various parts of the country.
Finland's Pro announces further paper strikes
(13.04.2010 - link to the web site of STT / Helsinki Times)
A third of public sector organisations apply ethical criteria
Helsinki (12.04.2011 - Heikki Jokinen) Ethical criteria have become more
common in work-clothes purchases by public sector organisations. However,
most still fail to give any serious consideration to the working conditions
of their suppliers. This is the conclusion of a new study, carried out by
researcher Päivi Pöyhönen and commissioned by Finnwatch.
The study covers sixteen public sector organisations and three state-owned
companies. And an interesting and positive development has been revealed by
the study. Currently, one third of the above have introduced ethical
demands, which must be met by their work-clothes suppliers. Four years ago a
similar study revealed that at that time none of these public sector bodies
had such demands in place.
Proliitto strike in Finland against paper firm UPM continues
(11.04.2010 - link to the web site of ICEM)
Salaried employees take decisive measures
and opt for a two-week strike in
the paper industry
Pro (07.04.2011 - Juhani Artto)
In and around one thousand salaried employees, working for the forest
industry company UPM-Kymmene, began a strike on Thursday morning. Pro, the
trade union of salaried employees, believes that most of UPM-Kymmene's
factories in Finland will interrupt their production this week. The strike
is planned to go on for two weeks.
The major disagreement between Pro and the employer organization Finnish
Forest Industries Federation concerns the salary system. Salaried employees
of the paper industry want to have a similar salary system to the one
applied in most industries where Pro represents salaried employees.
Akava and Trade Union
News from Finland begin cooperation
Helsinki (05.04.2011 - Juhani Artto) Akava, the union confederation of
highly educated employees, has begun to cooperate with Trade Union News from
Finland. Akava's decision reflects the union movement's need to enlarge its
English language reporting. Internationally active Finnish union
organisations want organised employees in other countries to be familiar
with characteristics and developments concerning the Finnish labour market.
- Akava and its 34 affiliates can be regarded as a success story. Over a 30
year period the affiliates have been able to more than treble the number of
their rank and file members to over half a million. The organising rate in
the various fields has risen, on average, to about 70 per cent. By way of
international comparison this is a very high rate indeed, bearing in mind
that the tradition of organising among highly educated employees has been of
relatively brief duration. - Read more:
Akava - Confederation of
Unions for Professional and Managerial Staff in Finland
Unions and NGOs want to have
the right to sue on behalf of individuals
Helsinki (04.04.2011 - Juhani Artto) Under current Finnish legislation it is
not possible for a trade union to sue an employer on behalf of its rank and
file members or non-member individuals unless they have authorized the union
to do so. Unions regard this as a serious injustice and demand new
legislation - which would allow for what is presently impermissible - to be
included in the next government programme.
The right to sue has been among the top issues of the union
organizations' election campaigns. The Council of Industrial Unions TP wants
the right to sue to cover, for example, issues related to working hours,
illegal dismissals, equality, occupational safety and neglect of joint
counselling. The Council represents over 800,000 wage and salaried
employees, organized in 14 trade unions. In the TP, there are unions from
all three union confederations Akava, SAK and STTK.
TeliaSonera staff launch five day strike
(30.03.2010 - link to the web site of YLE News)
Finnish paper sector wage accords divert between ICEM affiliates
(28.03.2010 - link to the web site of ICEM)
Joint consultation to begin
in late April:
Will Nokia cut thousands of jobs in Finland?
Helsinki (24.03.2011 - Juhani Artto) Jorma Ollila, the Chairman of the
mobile phone giant Nokia's board, announced on Wednesday that the company
will begin representations in late April as part of the joint consultation
process with personnel. The talks concern 16,000 employees in Finland and
elsewhere but in Finland, especially, this has raised great fears of drastic
job cuts. Experts and many others have speculated that thousands may lose
their jobs, since the announcement of the overhaul of Nokia's strategy.
Nokia will replace the Symbian operating system in its mobile phones with
More fatal accidents
and higher frequency of accidents in 2010
Helsinki (21.03.2011 - Juhani Artto) Last year the number of work accidents
increased by 5 per cent from 2009. In part, this unwanted development can be
explained by the economic upswing that has meant more people in employment
and a concomitant increase in overall working hours. However, there has also
been a clear rise in accident frequency. In 2009 there were 28 accidents per
one million working hours and in 2010 the vital statistical figure rose to
30. Thus, the accident frequency rose by 4 per cent.
Efforts to narrow the
gender pay gap have not been effective
Helsinki (08.03.2011 - Juhani Artto) A number of influential people have
recently voiced alarm at how slowly the gender pay gap in Finland is being
narrowed. Among them have been Leila Kostiainen, the Secretary General of
the Finnish Confederation of Professionals STTK and Pentti Arajärvi, a
professor who has, since 2009, headed the high-level group monitoring the
implementation of the government's equal pay programme.
In 2006 the government and the central labour market organizations approved
as their common goal to raise, by 2015, women's pay to 85 per cent of men's
pay. Back then, in 2006, women earned, on average, 80.9 per cent of what men
Security guards' strikes called off
(02.03.2010 - link to the web site of Yle News)
Effective retirement age jumped upwards more
Helsinki (28.02.2011 - Juhani
Artto) In 2010 the effective retirement age rose to 60.4 years. It was the
second year in a row of clear increase. Last year the jump upwards was even
higher than expected by experts, no less than 0.6 years in one year. The
common goal of the Finnish government and labour market organizations is to
raise the effective retirement by three years by 2025, from the 2008 level
of 59.4 years. Last year almost half of the increase of the effective
retirement age was due to the abolishment of the unemployment pension for
people who were born in 1950 or later. - Read more:
Clear increase in the effective retirement age, Työeläke 1-2011, page
Bus driving mainly an immigrant's profession
(25.02.2010 - link to the web site of Yle News)
Nordic country trade unions in dialogue with ACFTU of China
Helsinki (23.02./24.02.2011 - Juhani Artto)
In mid' February representatives of the largest union confederations* of the
five Nordic countries and the official Chinese union organization ACFTU held
a two-day seminar in Helsinki. Under discussion were major global
issues, such as the economic crisis, unemployment, corporate social
responsibility and collective bargaining. Also climate change, migration and
international cooperation of the trade union movement were on the agenda.
The Nordic unions firmly believe that dialogue with the Chinese union
organization is preferable to efforts to isolate it, as was done in the
past. "SAK has good bilateral relations with the ACFTU", Marjaana Valkonen,
the Director for International Affairs of the SAK says.
Finnish trade union
movement demands EU not intervene
in collective bargaining
Helsinki (22.02.2011 - Juhani Artto) The EU's
plan to grab the right to control collective bargaining taking place in the
Member States has been turned down outright by the Finnish trade union
movement. This was the message of Mikko Mäenpää in his radio interview
broadcasted on Monday morning by Yle. Mäenpää is the President of the
Finnish Confederation of Professional STTK and a steering committee member
of the European Trade Union Confederation ETUC.
He urges Finnish politicians to ensure that the EU will not intervene in
working life matters at national level. Intervention on bargaining and pay
levels would be steps in a wrong direction and would be opposed by the
entire trade union movement, Mäenpää stresses.
PAM warns of strike
Helsinki (18.02.2011 - Juhani Artto) The Service Union United PAM has
declared a three-day strike, to begin on Wednesday 2 March, at the security
company Securitas. The strike is in protest against the company's deliberate
action, which the union claims is designed to complicate collective
bargaining negotiations which are underway in the security industry. The
previous collective agreement for the industry expired on 31 January 2011.
"The company has interrogated and put pressure on employees and shop
stewards who have participated in industrial action. Securitas has also sent
its employees a message where it urges them to leave PAM and to search for
an alternative to it", explains Ann Selin, the President of PAM.
New agreements to maintain
purchasing power of municipal
and state employees
JHL (17.02.2011 - Juhani Artto)
Negotiators in the municipal and state sectors have reached a common
understanding on new collective agreements. The aim is to give pay rises
that will maintain the purchasing power of the employees. This was the main
goal of The Trade Union for the Public and Welfare Sectors JHL and the other
unions representing employees.
In the municipal sector the agreement covers some 430,000 employees, and in
the state sector 88,000 employees.
JHL: Employers' offer for the municipal sector pay rises is too low
JHL (09.02.2011 - Juhani Artto)
Collective bargaining in the municipal sector came to a head on Tuesday with
the employer side offering a concrete offer. The proposal consists of a 0.8
pay rise for all on May 1 and a 0.7 locally negotiable pay rise on September
1. On an annual basis the rise for 2011 would thus remain below 1 per cent.
Considering that inflation runs at around 2.4 per cent or even more the
employers' offer would mean, in real terms, a reduction of municipal
employees' purchasing power by about 1 per cent, says Tuire Santamäki-Vuori,
the President of The Trade Union for the Public and Welfare Sectors JHL.
JHL and the other unions representing the municipal employees
rejected the employers' offer outright, maintaining that the pay rises were
too low. The unions' goal is to reach an agreement, which would uphold the
purchasing power of municipal employees.
Bus drivers demand better security
(09.02.2010 - link to the web site of Yle News)
Trafficking in humans often hidden away
(04.02.2010 - link to the web site of Helsingin Sanomat)
confederations want the EU to put more pressure
Helsinki (02.02.2011 - Juhani Artto) Last Thursday, three Finnish union
confederations - SAK, STTK and Akava –in a joint effort- issued a statement
condemning the arrests and maul-handling of protesters after the December
presidential elections in Belarus. Among those arrested were union activists
and a number of those arrested are still imprisoned, the confederations say.
They are now urging the EU to put pressure on Belarus to implement the ILO's
recommendations on Belarus. The recommendations concern the implementation
of ILO conventions on organizing and collective bargaining rights.
Ambitious goal of five municipalities:
All young people will be employed at least temporarily
JHL (31.01.2011 - Juhani Artto)
Stakeholders in a new project believe that it is possible and imperative to
organize at least temporary work for all young people who are not studying.
The goal is ambitious as youth unemployment is high also in Finland. In
November 2010 the unemployment rate of people from 15 to 24 years of age was
16.1 per cent.
The project is to be implemented in five municipalities: Vantaa, Kuopio,
Kotka, Uusikaupunki and Huittinen. In the municipality of Vantaa (pop.
200,000) the challenge is to find work, by April 1, for about one thousand
young unemployed people. The idea is to employ each of these unemployed
people for at least two months to give them valuable and confidence boosting
work experience. In Uusikaupunki the goal is even more ambitious, as the
project aims to offer work for three or four months.
Stora Enso bends to High Court's decision after irresponsible delay:
will finally receive their performance bonuses
Helsinki (26.01.2011 - Juhani Artto)
The Finnish-Swedish forest industry company Stora Enso announced on Tuesday
that it will adhere to the decision made by the High Court in December 2010.
It means that the company will finally pay performance bonuses to employees
whose bonuses it had withheld because of their participation in strikes in
company says to have reserved EUR21 million for cash expenses "related
to performance-based rewards that were not paid due to illegal strikes in
Finland in 2005-2009".
Bangladeshi cleaners paid slave wages in Finland
(19.01.2010 - link to the web site of Yle News)
employers make proposals to intensify fight against grey economy
Helsinki (17.01.2011 - Juhani Artto) The fight against the grey economy has
taken an important step forward with the new initiatives being proposed by
the Confederation of Finnish Industries EK. The powerful employer central
organisation wants to make tax identification numbers mandatory for all
persons working in the construction industry. Trade union organizations have
welcomed EK's initiative on the tax identification number. Strong
legislation is beneficial for both employees and honest entrepreneurs,
emphasizes Matti Harjuniemi, the President of the 85,000 rank and file
member Finnish Construction Trade Union.
bargaining back in full swing in state
and municipal sectors
JHL (13.01.2011 -
Juhani Artto) Pay regulations are the most important issues at stake in the
collective bargaining process facing the state and municipal sectors, says
The Trade Union for the Public and Welfare Sectors. The negotiations began
on Monday. And the aim is to reach a common understanding by the end of
January. Concerning negotiations in the state sector JHL's President Tuire
Santamäki-Vuori wishes to make it very clear that employees must not be
forced to foot the bill for the "sustainability deficit" in state finances.
Pay rises must match rises in other labour market sectors. JHL also
underlines the need to guarantee gender equality and a fair status for
New jobs hard to find for
workers of closed paper mills
- salaried employees have fared somewhat better
Helsinki (03.01.2011 - Juhani Artto) In the last few years thousands of
employees have lost their jobs as a result of pulp and paper mill closures.
Esa Kaitila, a researcher working at The Paperworkers' Union, calculates
that since 2006 over 4,000 of its rank and file members have lost their jobs
due to closures.
Director Markku Palokangas from the largest union of salaried employees PRO estimates
that in the same period from 1,500 to 2,000 salaried employee jobs have been
eliminated in the pulp and paper industry.
A new study provides detailed information on how the workers of the closed
mills in Hamina (Summa), Kajaani and Kemijärvi have fared in the labour
market following the closures. Not well, as was indeed expected already 2-3
years ago when the closure plans were announced.
PAM's President Ann Selin lists her wishes for the New Year
Helsinki (30.12.2010 - Juhani
Artto) Ann Selin, the President of the Service Union United PAM, has 26
wishes for the New Year. Some of them are as follows: More people get a job
or place for studying. - Employees receive a living wage. - Part-timers get
more working hours when they want to have. - The amount of temporary jobs
decreases. - No temporary and permanent lay-offs. - Trust between employers
and employees improves.
Finns among hardest workers in the EU
(29.12.2010 - link to the web site of Yle News)
One sixth of school
assistants subjugated to weekly violence
JHL (23.12.2010 -
Juhani Artto) It is surprisingly common how often school assistants are
targeted violently at their work place, comments Kaijamaija Parviainen from
The Trade Union for the Public and Welfare Sectors JHL on the results of a
recent survey. Over 600 school assistants replied to the questionnaire.
Almost 3 per cent of the respondents encounter violence daily at their place
of work. And nearly 15 per cent face the same unpleasantness on a weekly
basis, and 12 per cent monthly. Around 30 per cent claim to have no violent
experiences in their work. The remaining 40 per cent claim to have been
targets of violence but with occurrences seldom ranging over once a month.
strikers entitled to performance bonuses
(23.12.2010 - Juhani Artto) On Wednesday the High Court ordered Stora Enso
to pay to its 200 salaried employees at the Oulu and Anjalankoski mills over
EUR200,000. This verdict finally brought resolution to a dispute originating
from spring 2006. Then Stora Enso refused to pay performance bonuses to
salaried employees who had taken part in the industrial action organized by
their trade unions. The strike was a protest against the thousands of
dismissals in the forest industry. The High Court's Wednesday decision
concerns a fifth of the employees involved in the dispute. However, the
remaining- almost 800 salaried employees- will also get the performance
bonuses, which has up until now been denied them by their employer Stora
Enso. The company now has to fork out over one million euros altogether in
disputed performance bonuses.
confederation leaders' worried about deterioration
Helsinki (20.12.2010 - Juhani Artto) Since the late 1960s three-tier
cooperation between the government and the labour market organizations has
been an important element in the promotion of economic growth and in the
development of the Finnish welfare system. Now there are serious signs of
deterioration in this three-tier cooperation endeavour.
Therefore, it is no small wonder that the Presidents of the two largest
confederations, SAK's Lauri Lyly and STTK's Mikko Mäenpää, have become
alarmed by this trend. They have sought to analyse what has been happening
in the latest issues of their organizations' magazines, Palkkatyöläinen and
Technology industry employers and unions work together to improve well-being
Helsinki (17.12.2010 - Juhani Artto) Well-being at work can be significantly
improved in the technology industry. This conclusion marks the starting
point of a new project in the industry that - with its 270,000 employees -
plays a central role in the Finnish economy. Some 20 enterprises of various
sizes and product sectors will participate in the project's pilot stage,
which is already underway. The goal of the pilot stage is to test and
develop methods and measuring tools applicable in the promotion of
well-being at work. The long-term goal is to create a method (for developing
well-being at work) that also allows for comparisons to be made on the
progress being made at various work places. In 2012, once the pilot stage
has been completed the project will be expanded and will reach hundreds of
Nokia concludes co-determination talks:
jobs to be cut in Finland instead of predicted 850
(15.12.2010 - link to the web site of Helsingin Sanomat)
Union and JHL amalgamate
JHL (14.12.2010 - Juhani Artto) The Trade Union for the Public and Welfare
Sectors JHL and the Railway Workers' Union are set to amalgamate. The
agreement to join forces was signed on 29 November. The amalgamation proper
will be finalized by the end of 2011. JHL represents 220,000 employees in
the public and welfare sectors. The Railway Workers' Union has 14,000 rank
and file members. With the 234,000 rank and file members the amalgamated
union will be largest in Finland. The merger, above all, serves to
strengthen the position of organized labour in the rail traffic sector.
Broad political support in Finland to erase precarious worker abuse
(13.12.2010 - link to the web site of ICEM)
TU and Suora
amalgamate to become Pro
TU (13.12.2010 - Juhani Artto) The union of salaried employees TU and Suora,
the union of the financial sector salaried employees, finally approved their
amalgamation on Saturday. The new union Pro will be operative from 1 January
2011. The first steps in the amalgamation process were taken five years ago.
The union has some 130,000 rank and file members in the private industry and
service sectors. Within industry members are to be found in the large
sectors such as the technology, forest, chemical and food industries. Also
ICT, construction, energy and media industries are well represented.
In Finnish industrial
sector the gender pay gap remains large
Helsinki (12.12.2010 - Juhani Artto) In the second quarter 2010 the average wages for women in
Finnish industry were 84.4 per cent of average wages for men. The gap was
marginally larger than in the
fourth quarter 2007 and 2006. In the second quarter 2002 the corresponding figure was 80 per cent.
Grey economy issues now receiving much attention
Helsinki (29.11.2010 - Juhani Artto) The grey economy has now become a very real issue in
Finnish politics. This may be seen as a reaction to the recent studies that
indicate a rapid growth in the grey economy, with all its attendant
malignant implications for society as a whole and in particular
for all those companies operating legitimately and their Finnish employees.
On November 9 the Ministry of Employment and the Economy set up a task force
to appraise how the present administrative tools work in tackling the grey
According to the Minister of Labour Anni Sinnemäki, a central issue on the
agenda is to prepare amendments to the
Act on the Contractor's
Obligations and Liability when Work is Contracted Out.
Paper union boss forced to step aside
(24.11.2010 - link to the web site of Yle News)
TU's Rinne wants support to Ireland conditioned
by higher company tax
Antti Rinne, the President of the Union of Salaried Employees TU, rejects
the plan to bail out Ireland without an assurance that Irish corporation tax
be raised. "Finnish tax-payers should not be expected to allow Ireland to
continue, after the bailout operation, its economic policy that is unfair
and dangerous towards European wage and salary earners. Ireland has to bring
its corporate tax back into line with the average level of the EU Member
States. Ireland has succeeded in garnering foreign investments by means of
unhealthy tax competition. One has to remember that employees lost jobs and
states lost tax incomes in countries from where, for example, IT jobs were
transferred to Ireland."
In Ireland the company tax base is 12.5, in Finland 26 and on average in the
EU Member States 23 per cent.
Helsinki (22.11.2010 - Juhani Artto) In late September we reported on
suspicions that Turkish electricians are not being properly paid for
building a new 400 kV transmission line in Southern Ostrobothnia
These suspicions had been voiced by The Electrical Workers' Union. Soon
after that Sauli Väntti, who is responsible for the union's work in the
energy and ICT sectors, visited the work site of the Turkish company
Internationale Freileitungsmontage (IFM) to gather information on working
conditions. A week later - without any explanations - the 33 Turkish
electricians returned home.
Study: Most long-term unemployed suffer from mental problems (12.11.2010 - link to the web site of Yle News)
STTK working to
impact next government programme
(12.11.2010 - Juhani Artto) Like other major interest groups and
organizations, The Finnish Confederation of Professionals STTK has prepared,
in cooperation with its affiliated unions, a document in which it sets out
its goals aimed at the next government programme. The Parliamentary
elections will be held in April 2011 but STTK and the other interest
organizations have had their own proposals for the next government programme
ready for some time.
A new English
language report explains how the municipal system functions in Finland
JHL (11.11.2010 - Juhani Artto) Municipalities play a big role in the lives
of Finns. This is primarily due to the vast responsibilities municipalities
have in organizing basic education and health care, social and many other
vital services citizens need at various stages of their lives. How all this
is organized is outlined in a new English language publication, published by
the Government Institute for Economic Research VATT. The 65-page pdf-file
can be loaded
here. According to VATT the publication is the most comprehensive
English language report on municipal finances in Finland.
Public sector unions help immigrant labour integrate
Fipsu (10.11.2010 - Juhani Artto)
The question of immigrants and immigration has become an important issue in
the discussion and debate leading up to the April 2011 parliamentary
And the trade unions have also been doing their bit. They have reacted in a
positive and responsible fashion to what has become an emotive issue subject
to somewhat overheated handling.
Two goals govern the union agenda on immigration and immigrants. Unions have
created a multitude of activities that aim to help and speed up the
integration of immigrant labour into Finnish society and its labour
market. The first and number one goal is to prevent immigrant employees from
becoming victims of social dumping.
Same rules for Finns must apply to immigrant labour
Juhani Artto) In Finland the question of work-related
immigration is a fairly recent experience when compared with most other
countries. And, this is primarily due to the fact that Finland was
a country -up until just a few decades ago- where labour emigration clearly
The role of the labour market organizations vis a vis labour-related
immigration can be divided into two strands. The employers have emphasized
for work-related immigration, mindful of the ageing population.
For the same reason, the trade unions have admitted the existence of this
but the trade unions'
interest has always focused on the rules concerning the use of foreign
labour and on how these rules are respected.
Sharp divisions over shorter vacations, extended working hours
(06.11.2010 - link to the web site of Yle News)
SAK publishes a long list of
initiatives to tackle grey economy
Helsinki (02.11.2010 - Juhani Artto) Data on the ever growing grey economy
worries the union confederation SAK. "It is not only a question of lost
taxes and fees but also the negative impact on the fairness of competition
in business life, on the status of employees, on general tax morality and on
the credibility of the entire tax system", SAK says in its large and
detailed initiative on the grey economy, published on Tuesday.
The document includes 25 proposals on how to amend current legislation to
make it a more effective weapon and barrier against the grey economy.