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JUHANI ARTTO
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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 move by the town is an attempt to circumvent the working hour legislation.

The motivation behind Raasepori's effort lies in the recent changes of the municipal family child-minders' working hour regulations. Since August 1st 2011 working hour legislation also covers municipal family child-minders. As a result the latter have seen their regular weekly working hours shortened from 43.15 hours to 40 hours.

None of the town's 56 family child-minders is interested in the cooperative model, Monica Rönnberg, the shop steward of the child-minders says. This reluctance is no wonder as approving the proposed new status would mean losing pension and other social benefits they now enjoy as municipal employees. In other words they are not prepared to take on what are, in effect, entrepreneurial risks.

The town has promised to pay higher remuneration for those who change over to the cooperative model but – so far - it has not made the proposed model attractive for the municipal family child-minders.

Child-minders cannot be dismissed or given notice by arguing the merits of cooperatives, Minna Pirttijärvi from JHL stresses.