Union confederations SAK
and STTK seek a way towards growth
Helsinki (09.01.2013 - Heikki Jokinen)
The trade union confederations SAK and STTK have published their own
programme for economic growth. "High salaries are not the reason for
problems in the Finnish economy, there are other reasons behind it", is
how SAK president Lauri Lyly views the situation.
Lyly and STTK president Mikko
Mäenpää see the real problems afflicting the Finnish economy lie in the
too low value of added production. The key sectors of our economy,
namely the paper and electronics industry have concentrated far too much
and for far too long in bulk products.
The solutions offered by the
confederations are aimed at guaranteeing a high level of education,
building and maintenance of a working infrastructure and supporting new
Lyly and Mäenpää are adamant that
economic growth can only be reached when both the quality of working
life and productivity are intertwined and developed simultaneously.
Growth should revolve around the participation of the whole population,
not just the top performer. To reach growth, productivity has to be
raised in all fields of production, not only in the trendy sectors or in
The practical measures proposed by
the confederations are many and varied. And unquestionably, they see the
key to success as being tied up with Finland’s high level of education
and know-how. Adults should be afforded better opportunities to upgrade
their professional skills. Vocational education should become more
flexible and closer to actual working life. Budget cuts should not
As part of innovation policy goal
there is the need for more economic diversity. At least 4 per cent of GDP should
be devoted to research and development. Development of the quality of
working life is also an important part of innovation policy as it
"Low taxation is not the key to
competitiveness", says Mikko Mäenpää. Small and medium income tax could
be lowered but companies should pay their fair share of taxes. The era
of state-ownership in the economy is not over, it is necessary to
accumulate capital, Mäenpää adds.
Finland does have many strengths,
the programme says. In the global surveys of competitiveness Finland
often comes out as one of the top countries. The public sector works
well and the rule of law is firmly established. Finland has an ability
to come to quick decisions, when needed. "If we could just remove some
friction, Finland would work better", Lauri Lyly says.
Lauri Lyly offers co-operation to
the Confederation of Finnish Industries EK, believing that it could
agree with many of the proposals. "I hope we can find common standpoints
with EK. The important thing is growth. If we have joint opinions it
will be easier to speak to the government", Mikko Mäenpää says.