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Labour market confederations search for a framework for collective
bargaining in various industries

Helsinki (29.08.2011 - Juhani Artto) The employer stronghold, the Confederation 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 bargaining.

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.

When EK refers to the export industry it turns the spotlight on the collective bargaining in the technology industry. Agreements in the latter sector for some 260,000 wage and salary earners are set to expire soon. Prior to the vacation period the Metalworkers' Union aimed for a 4 per cent pay rise but as inflation has accelerated to almost 4 per cent the union may raise its goal in the coming weeks. Its agreement expires on September 30.

In the technology industry also the union of salaried employees Pro and the bargaining organ of senior salaried employees YTN are negotiating new collective agreements.

Last week Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen pushed for confederation level negotiations by promising to lower income tax if labour market organizations agree on a solution that safeguards the competitiveness of the Finnish economy. Union confederations stress that the employers must also come to terms with the idea that raising wages and salaries is a positive development.