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Trade Union News from Finland

SAK, STTK and Akava:
EU's economic and employment coordination
must be based on tripartite preparation


Helsinki (14.11.2012 - Juhani Artto) The three union confederations in Finland - SAK, STTK and Akava – support the euro and the strengthening of EU's economic policy cooperation and regard economic coordination as essential. However, when it comes to the question of EU economic steering the independent bargaining position of labour market parties must be fully respected, the union confederations stress.

This demand is included in the statement the three organizations presented on Wednesday to Jyrki Katainen, the Prime Minister of Finland. The statement is aimed to coincide with the day of action and solidarity the European trade union movement is organising on November 14.

The union confederations point out that wage and salary formulation, together with certain other aspects which are clearly and properly a matter for the labour market parties, have now been brought under the auspices of the EU's monitoring of economic policy and which also extends to the area of possible sanctions. "The European Commission can, in principle, fine a Member State for working conditions bargained by labour market parties, if the Commission judges pay rises as being too high, for example."

SAK, STTK and Akava strongly disapprove of any such intervention in the free bargaining system. They remind us that this free bargaining right is based on the freedom to organize, guaranteed under the Finnish constitution. "Finland is also bound by and committed to international agreements, such as the ILO conventions on the right to organize and bargain collectively."

"Economic and employment policy coordination must be based on tripartite preparation that respects national bargaining procedures. The EU must promote the well-being of people and employment as much as competitiveness and efforts to balance the public sector economy."

The union confederations emphasize the need to improve the status of young people in the labour market. In addition, they want the provision of education and research to be enlarged in the EU's financing frameworks for the years 2014 to 2020.

"Fairness in the EU's internal market is a precondition for Europe's success. The internal market has to offer a framework for sustainable growth. The rules of European industrial policy and working life must be clear and identical for all."

SAK, STTK and Akava will only endorse closer political union if the EU's social dimension is strengthened at the same time. "Employees' basic rights should not be subordinated to freedom of the markets."

Like the ETUC, the Finnish union confederations also regard it as absolutely necessary that an additional social protocol, strengthening employees' rights, be attached to EU's basic treaty.

"Dialogue between labour market organizations, at both national and EU levels, fosters trust and promotes stability and responsibility. A common analysis on how to improve employment and growth is needed", the Finnish union confederations say.

In their opinion tripartite preparation should be the foundation on which the European labour market model is built.