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Trade Union News from Finland
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.

When preparing working life directives labour market organizations are consulted, Muona says. The starting point is that these organizations are always afforded the opportunity of negotiating the content of a directive, and the Commission makes its legislative proposal respecting the results of such negotiations. But now, new working life directives are not given but through economic policy coordination one influences, for example, wage and salary formation and labour market reforms.

"In several crisis countries, decisions have been made, in the name of economic policy coordination, to lower wages and salaries and to cut public expenditure. These decisions have had a tremendous impact on wage and salary earners."

In Muona's opinion it would be important to strengthen the three-tier model also in the EU's economic and employment policy coordination. Matters that traditionally belong to the area of labour market parties' negotiation autonomy are currently being pushed through unilaterally by dint of the coordination mechanism.

During the Chairmanship of José Manuel Barroso, at the European Commission, too few working life directives have been approved, Muona says. And the deficiency has been filled by coordination that has by-passed both the labour market parties and the European Parliament.