Trade Union News from Finland

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FROM FINLAND 1997-2013

MAAILMALTA 1999-2013















At largest employers:
Labour costs per employee vary from 25 000 to 81 000 per annum

Helsinki (23.07.2013 – Juhani Artto) Outotec tops the list when it comes to labour costs per employee in Finnish companies in 2012. The list, published recently by the economics weekly Talouselämä (issue 20/2013), comprises figures from the hundred largest Finnish employers (not including public sector employers). The minerals and metals processing company Outotec last year paid out 81 373 euros per employee in direct and indirect labour costs. The other end of the list comprises retailers and companies that offer property maintenance services, such as cleaning. The lowest labour costs per employee were for the property services companies Contineo (24 823 euros) and Solemo (25 612 euros). According to Statistics Finland, direct earnings made up approximately 60 per cent and social security contributions almost 22 per cent of the total labour costs in 2008. Since then the structure of the costs has not changed significantly.

Financial crisis 2007-2010:
Major Finnish multinationals continue to expand abroad

Helsinki (26.06.2013 - Timo-Erkki Heino) "Finnish multinational corporations are export companies which carry out a major part of their activities in Finland." - This is the perception many Finns have of Finnish multinationals. The perception is outdated: in the case of eight major multinational manufacturing companies only 25 per cent of their personnel were in Finland in 2010 compared to 47 per cent in 2000, report Pekka Sauramo and Ritva Oesch in their study recently published by the Labour Institute for Economic Research.

Heikki Jokinen is the new publisher
of Trade Union News from Finland

Helsinki (28.05.2013 - Juhani Artto / Heikki Jokinen) The publisher of Trade Union News from Finland is about to change. Heikki Jokinen will take over responsibility for the publication as of the 29 May 2013. Jokinen steps in for Juhani Artto who first established the newsletter in 1997 and has acted as publisher ever since. Artto will continue to serve as co-publisher up until the end of 2013, the post Jokinen has held from January-May 2013.
"I am very pleased with this handover and feel safe in the knowledge that this new arrangement will safeguard the continuity of the publication. Also, the union organizations who are instrumental in making the publication financially viable, have given their blessing to the new publisher", Artto says. "Within Finnish working life and the trade union movement many things happen that are good to know outside of Finland and among non-Finnish speaking immigrant labour in Finland. Trade Union News from Finland has been a tool for reporting these things." Along with the new publisher the web address of Trade Union News from Finland also changes. The new one is

FIOH's new survey:
Quality of 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.

Outsourcing redundancy 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.

Finnish union confederations:
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 in 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
(03.05.2013 - 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 presence felt
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 Fjäder, the President of Akava, in considering the government’s choices.

Mining industry 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"
(21.03.2013 - link to the web site of Yle News)

Employers block national deal on pay and conditions
(20.03.2013 - 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) The 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 service jobs

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.

Fathers 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 born.

Less sick leave with better leadership

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 per employee.

A master at school
(08.02.2013 - 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)

Finnish authorities getting to grips with work-related
human trafficking

Helsinki (01.02.2013 - 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 still pending.

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)

How 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 19,700 people 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 with personnel representatives.

Finnwatch reports on serious abuses of labour in Thai food tuna and fruit production for European markets

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 brands

The Union of Professional Engineers has begun to cooperate
with Trade Union News from Finland

Helsinki (15.01.2013 - Heikki Jokinen) The Union of Professional Engineers 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 members of whom 87 per cent work in the private sector. UIL belongs to Akava, the Confederation of Unions for Professional and Managerial Staff in Finland. "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 innovations.

Employer 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 representatives had already negotiated with trade union confederations concerning legislation to guarantee employees three days professional education a year.

Only one in six support the idea of raising the retirement age

Helsinki (29.12.2012 - Juhani Artto) The employer stronghold EK urges that the 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 opinion poll Yle published on Wednesday.
According to the poll, only 16 per cent of Finns support the idea of raising the lower limit of the retirement age. It is now 63 while the upper limit is 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 introduced. These conclusions are once again confirmed in a comprehensive study, published in October by the common body Fipsu, made up of nine public sector unions
. The English language summary of the study can be found here (a 4-page docx-file).

JHL opposed 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 sell-off in 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 problematic. 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 general.

Finnish-based companies breach employees’ right to organize
in Mexico

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

Research director Jorma Antila:
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 employers' 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 Congress:
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.

STTK's President 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 November 2012

New reverse VAT system in construction industry
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 employment relations.

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."

SAK, 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 sustainability. 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 (45 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 intermediaries. Serious social 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 Tehy) and the Finnish development NGO Solidaarisuus support Finnwatch’s programme in organizing various international solidarity activities, the present study included.

The economic 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 (EUR 100). 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
and tendering

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 press.

Dozens of employees from Sri Lanka victims of aggravated extortion

Helsinki (16.10.2012 - Juhani Artto) Illegal treatment of immigrant labour seems to have become an integral part of Finnish working life. The latest exposure concerns 36 employees of the cleaning company Ariel Palvelut Oy that has had large assignments from public authorities in Helsinki and in Espoo. Most of the victims are from Sri Lanka, the union magazine PAM reports. In late September, the managing director and two supervisors of the 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 small.

At the 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 concerning working 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 directives.

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 employer's 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 India. 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 Palkkatyöläinen. "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 for increased 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 model"

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 repeatedly referred to the strength of the German export industry, in particular, and hinted that Finland should follow Germany's example. "Germany's road cannot be our road", say the Presidents of two influential trade unions, namely, the metalworkers' Riku Aalto and private sector salaried employees' 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 1990s.

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 signatures 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

Compulsory taxation 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 their employees.

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 the Finnish 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 running 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 to understand the value of its workforce, Lepola writes in Särmä, the union magazine. "This is how a large multinational company should behave." 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 reiterated 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 construction sites
(23.08.2012 - link to the web site of Helsingin Sanomat)

Municipal employees are ready to consider
continuation of the framework agreement

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 on 28 February 2014.

China's ACFTU wants to learn from SAK how to promote
employees' rights

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 of employees' rights, and through that avenue, the well-being of the entire society. "It is important to find a balance whereby sufficient economic growth guarantees the well-being of companies. Then these companies can afford to pay proper wages and 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 world. 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 example, 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, according to 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, the trend in the unemployment rate has taken a downward turn following the 2008/2009 recession. 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" Estonians. 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. The survey indicates also that positive experiences of the host country and relatives and friends living there play a significant role when heading for work abroad.

JHL's rank and file members more eager than Union Council
to take industrial action so as to "teach" employers

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 cent) 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 from Thailand. 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 file 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 TEAM. 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 myth 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 period.

Working 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 sustainability of the welfare state, says Jarkko Eloranta, President of the JHL. He characterizes the municipalities' own service provision as "sustainable, stable and flexible". It is also good for employment and the entire economy, Eloranta adds. "With the service provision of municipalities intact, private capital investors cannot create service monopolies who seek to make profits from basic services." 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 construction site

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 subcontractors, and in turn, all their subcontractors, would follow the same principles. However, this is far from the case, concerned trade unions claim. On the very same 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 to actively defend the legislation, collective agreements and organizing rights.

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.

Eloranta elected 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 festival goers. 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 actively in the implementation of this demand. The third demand is to ensure these services be kept public.

A tripartite task force in search of ways to improve the unfair status of atypical labour force

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 major 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 Labour Journal)

Life after Nokia also means new opportunities
(22.05.2012 - link to the web site of Nordic Labour Journal)

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 four 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 Magazine)

Human rights expert Parul Sharma to join Stora Enso
(21.05.2012 - link to the web site of Stora Enso)

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.

JHL: Positive interaction between employers and employees leads to longer work careers

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 feel well." 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.

Labour market's 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 prohibited under the Finnish Non-Discrimination Act. According to the study, other grounds, such as age, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion and opinion, 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 gender 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 remain steady.

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 foreign 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 concerning foreign labour in Finland. It is written by a senior researcher into the black economy, Mr. Markku Hirvonen, and commissioned by the National Police Board. 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's President

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 President 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 drivers. 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, the annual variation of economic activity does not offer any real comfort when studying the statistics.

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 Mexican factory. 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 Helsingin Sanomat)

Wage and salary earners' pay differentials contracted further in 2010
(05.04.2012 - link to the web site of Statistics Finland)

Labour market 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 extend work 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 major 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
and 35 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
in 2010

(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 European 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 developing 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 and those of their subcontractors in developing countries, which supply goods to Finnish markets. The unions taking part in this effort are the Trade Union for the Public and Welfare 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

STTK (26.03.2012) 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 organizations.

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 government 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 private sector salaried employees, from 60 to 64 years of age, were given notice by their employers. Among those from 55 to 59 years of age nearly 15 per cent 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 by the salaried employees' trade union Pro. The figures are based on replies 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, financial, 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 willingness to work are diminishing, say a majority of wage and salary earners, according to the latest working life barometer. It was published in January by the Ministry of Employment and the Economy (MEE). Recent annual reports reveal that this trend has been prevalent for a longer time already. In autumn 2011, when the 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 investment strategy

Helsinki (22.02.2012 - Heikki Jokinen) The union confederation SAK supports the idea of creating a national strategy aimed at attracting foreign investment to Finland. However, SAK is disappointed with the proposals* put forward by Jorma Eloranta, the retired CEO of Metso. SAK regards the proposals to cut company taxes as "unrealistic" and "unnecessary". The level of company taxation in Finland is nowadays below the average level of Western European countries, SAK points out. "Finland can be attractive to foreign investors only if it can offer them versatile skills, a predictable tax policy, incorruptible administration and stable circumstances", says Matti Tukiainen, the director of industrial 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 raise?
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

STTK (20.02.2012) 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 years.

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 offering 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 services.

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 be amalgamated, must be negotiated in good faith and the necessary resources for facilitating this harmonization must be made available. Also, different personnel sectors must be treated 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 reform 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 but the safeguarding of services, says Jarkko Eloranta, the President of the Trade 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

STTK (08.02.2012) 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 Finnish 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

STTK (07.02.2012) 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 damage. "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)

PKC signs agreement with protection union in Mexico
(06.02.2012 - link to the web site of Int. Metalworkers' Federation)

Individual flexibility in working conditions act as an incentive
to continue working longer

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 retirement 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 longer in 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

STTK (31.01.2012) 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 moment 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 with 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 Katainen.

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 representatives? 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 by 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 EU's Structural Fund appropriations that were allocated annually to the employer. 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 continuous nature.

Presidential elections in Finland:
Campaign 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 labour-intensive."


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