is becoming a business
Helsinki (15.05.2013 - Heikki Jokinen)
Recent measures taken by Nokia have prompted many people to ask whether
it is using other companies to do its dirty work when it comes to firing
employees. "There is a pattern where employees are outsourced with some
part of the business to another company, which will then quickly fire
them on the grounds of re-organising production. One has to ask whether
redundancy has become a business", says Maria Löfgren, director of Akava,
the Confederation of Unions for Professional and Managerial Staff.
legislation only sanctions workforce redundancy when there is a
deterioration in the employer’s financial situation or in cases where
there is a need for re-organisation of production with the result that
the employer no longer has sufficient work to offer its employees.
The most recent case
is the announcement by Tata Consultancy Services to cut some 290 jobs in
Finland. The Indian based company had only six weeks earlier taken on
460 employees from Nokia, when Nokia outsourced its IT administration.
According to the
newspaper Taloussanomat another Indian based IT company HCL Technologies
is also set to begin
with regard to possible personnel cuts. Nokia recently outsourced 255
employees from IT administration to HCL Technologies.
The companies have a
contract with Nokia to continue the same tasks as performed by the
people transferred from Nokia. Many are afraid that the amount of work
will not be diminished, but the companies will want to change the people
who do it.
The shop steward Aune
Jääskeläinen from Tata Consultancy Services believes that part of the
work will be transferred to people working in Finland with foreign
employment contracts. "According to my information we have 450 employees
with Finnish contracts. With Indian or other contracts work several
hundred people, they sit here just as our neighbours", she said to
"I do not know what
kind of contract they do have, but it is not Finnish. They have
completely different terms and salary than we and they do not pay taxes
Taloussanomat went on
to say that right after Nokia outsourced their employees that they were
not given mobile phones at Tata Consultancy Services. They had to bring
their own phones. Now this indicates that redundancy plans already
existed at this stage, says Pertti Porokari, chairman of the Union of
Professional Engineers UIL. "The company didn't even bother to provide
tools for the employees."
In spring 2011 Nokia
transferred 1.200 of its employees working with the Symbian operating
system to the management consulting and technology services company
Accenture. Most of them have since lost their jobs.
Antti Rinne, chairman
of trade union Pro, said that moving the Nokia employees to Accenture
did not result in a real job for many of them. "They were just kept on
the gallows with the nooses loosely around their necks until the new
employer did the dirty work and announced lay-offs."
The phenomenon of
first outsourcing and then firing is used in other businesses, too. One
of the earlier cases was when Otava publishing house transferred its
graphics department to the Aste company in 2009. One third of the former
Otava employees were let go soon after that.
Director Maria Löfgren
from Akava reaffirms that transferring business to another company is
not a legitimate reason for the new employer to start making people
redundant. "This does not, however, offer protection to the transferred
employees, as firing people on the grounds of re-organisation of
production is as easy as boiling water. This outsourcing of redundancy
does nothing to enhance a company’s image or commitment to corporate
Akava claims that the
employers should bear responsibility for the jobs of those moved to
another company. This should be written into the business contract.
"Employers can either improve their redundancy morality themselves or
else it will be made healthier by legislation. There could be, for
example, better protection against redundancy for a couple of years
after the business has been sold", Löfgren says.