Mass redundancies and scare tactics colour
the start of the new round of
Helsinki (01.09.2011 - Juhani Artto) The summer vacations are now over and
labour market organizations are sharpening their weapons for the new round
of collective bargaining. Naturally, the employers are trying to take
advantage of the uncertain economic
outlook by painting the future with dark colours and more ominously by also
drastic redundancies. On the other side of the battlefield trade unions are
doing their utmost to encourage
their rank and file members by drawing on data that throw serious doubt on
the signals being sent out by
Further aggravation was to follow. In the technology industry this kind of
debate was aggravated on Monday when
union organizations published a survey based on replies given by 1,250 shop
stewards representing all employee groups. According to the replies
companies generally fare well and much better than what the employers have
claimed in recent weeks. The survey was made by the Metalworkers' Union, the
salaried employees union Pro and the Federation of Professional and
Managerial Staff YTN.
The union organizations label the pessimistic announcements of the employer
side as "mainly tactical preparation for the collective bargaining in this
autumn". Two thirds of the shop stewards regard technology industry's future
Collective bargaining is also beginning in the banking sector. The expiratory
agreements cover some 20,000 employees. On Monday the whole sector was
stunned when the Nordic bank Nordea announced its plan to cut 2,000 jobs
over the next year. And a third of these job losses will be in Finland.
The announcement came as a big surprise to employees who have successfully
worked hard to make the bank highly profitable. Nordea argues that these
steps are justified. The bank
says that drastic cuts have something to do with the remote future whereby the EU's
new regulations (New
Normal) cause additional costs to banks. Collective bargaining in the
banking sector begins on September 1.
On Wednesday, news of yet more inevitable mass redundancies still
worsened the already difficult bargaining situation. The forest industry
UPM said that it plans to shut down Myllykoski paper mill that it
bought late last year. The mill employs almost 400 people. UPM's plans,
announced on Wednesday, endanger 1,170 jobs in Finland, Germany and
"The announcement realises our worst fears", Petri Vanhala, the President
of the Paperworkers' Union comments. Antti Rinne, the President of Pro,
insists on a thorough investigation as to why this decision was taken and
alternatives that would mean a continuation of the production.
Nordea's and UPM's bad news this week have really angered union leaders.
Especially the role of Björn Wahlroos has been questioned as he chairs the
boards of both Nordea and UPM.