Helsinki (20.05.2016 - Heikki Jokinen) Finns do have a high regard for trade unions. In a recent survey 81 per cent of union members say the union is a neccesity. 83 per cent said their union has a high level of expertise and 71 per cent think it is open and easy to access.

These figures are from a survey commissioned by the Finnish Confederation of Professionals STTK. A group of statistically representative 1 407 Finns took part in the survey this spring.

The image of the union tends not to vary very much between different age groups. Women have a slightly better opinion of their union than men.

”The advocacy of own union and the help and support received from the union are important for Finns”, says Juska Kivioja from STTK .

”When working life is changing the need for advocacy and support is taking different forms, but the importance of these do not diminish, quite the opposite.”

When asked about the trade union movement as a whole 63 per cent of respondants answered that it was something that was definitely needed. When asked about areas in need of development, modernising the work and more openness were mentioned.

Help in conflict situations is important

One third of members join a union in order to get earnings-related unemployment benefit. It is traditionally administered by the union run unemployment funds.

Of those asked in the survey, 18 per cent said they joined for reasons of employment security. Unions help in conflict situations and are also known to work hard for jobs and against redundancies.

Others in my working place are members of the union, 18 per cent said when asked as to why they joined the union.

New members often come from the shop floor. Almost half a million Finns have joined the union when a shop steward or a colleague has suggested membership.

Of those who are under 35 years of age, 71 per cent joined the union during their studies or immediately after qualifying. In particular, a large proportion of social and health branch students and engineering students joined the union during their studies.

Problems in working life are a common reason to join, too. Ten per cent of members joined when their job was in danger. Changes in career encourage people to organise. Nine per cent said they joined when taking alternation leave or changing a job.

Finland is one of leading countries in the world when it comes to trade union density. In the latest study the total level of organised employees was 64.5 per cent at the end of 2013.

Read also:

Finland still on top when it comes to trade union density (02.09.2015)