Trade Union News from Finland
Minister sees good employment prospects for municipal employees
JHL (23.01.2012 - Juhani Artto)
There are plenty of job opportunities, now and especially in the future, in
the municipal sector. This is the core message of Henna Virkkunen, the
Minister of Public Administration and Local Government, in her interview
Motiivi, the magazine of the Trade Union for the Public and Welfare Sectors
JHL. A third of the current municipal personnel will retire by 2020 and with
the population ageing rapidly this clearly makes for more demand in terms of
health and social
services, she argues.
With this assurance Virkkunen wants to allay any fears municipal employees
may have towards the profound restructuring of the network of
municipalities now underway by the government of Prime Minister Jyrki
Katainen. This project is the single most important structural reform of
the present government, which has been in power since June 2011. The
government aims to reduce the
number of municipalities from 336 to about hundred or even less,
by spring 2015 when the next Parliamentary elections take place.
These assurances are needed although the government programme states that
municipality reform will not lead to redundancies among employees.
Virkkunen suggests that in the near future a labour shortage may be a more
problem than having too many employees in municipal organizations.
And it should be remembered that the previous government also worked for
which resulted in scores of municipalities being merged. During this change
municipal employees were
offered a five year guarantee for the continuation of their employment
relations. Their tasks, however, did not always remain unchanged.
This politically and technically demanding municipal reform is motivated by
the urgency to safeguard municipalities' ability to offer the services they
mandated to perform. Another motive is to equalize the levels of municipal
taxes. Right now the gap between the highest and lowest municipal tax rates
is about 5
percentage points and experts warn that the gap will grow -in 10 or 15
years- to 15
percentage points unless something is done to prevent this from happening.
Another positive message for municipal employees was the warning as to the
when outsourcing municipal services. Outsourcing is not a good alternative
sectors where there is no competition, she says.
"There is the danger that the municipal organization of the sector will be
shut down and the municipality will become dependent on a single service provider."