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Trade Union News from Finland

STTK's Sund: OECD's diagnosis of Finland is correct and remedies
offered are proper in the main


STTK (07.02.2012) OECD published its country report* on Finland on February 7. Its main message is similar to the analysis of the Finnish Confederation of Professionals STTK on the state of the Finnish economy. The challenges facing those steering economic policy are primarily in how to secure longer term growth. The financial crisis that began in 2008 has resulted in serious damage to productivity development. It is very important to repair this damage.

"Finland has good reasons to balance its State budget also in the short term. However, it is decisive to carry out structural changes that have a longer term impact", says STTK's economic policy expert Ralf Sund.

OECD proposes a number of structural reforms affecting the way in which the labour market functions. Some of these proposals, such as raising the minimum age of retirement and weakening of the unemployment compensation, run counter to the policy of the trade union movement.

"It would be unfair to point out single elements of the report. When one looks at how the report tackles structural unemployment in its entirety, for example, it proves most interesting. Overall, this part of the report puts forward a more effective employment policy combined with more encouraging unemployment security prospects. Thus, when taken as a whole, report proposals could effectively raise the employment rate during working careers", Sund says.

The report also examines productivity in the public sector, especially the bottlenecks in public health care. The health care system has become too dispersed and functions somewhat ineffectively because of this. Public health care system employees would fare better if the totality of the system were to function well.

Based on the report's figures one may conclude that the two-year framework agreement, approved in November 2011 by the labour market organizations, functions successfully. The short term problems concerning Finland's economic growth are almost wholly due to the current state of Finland's export markets. The framework agreement acts to prevent any undermining of competitiveness and allows for some positive development in terms of purchasing power.

*Finland 2012, overview, OECD 07.02.2012 (a 33-page pdf-file)