Helsinki (19.12.2016 - Heikki Jokinen) Sauli Väntti is the new President of the Electrical Workers´ Union. And the Union also won a victory in the Labour Court in its long struggle for the rights of the Polish electrical workers at the construction site of the Olkiluoto 3 nuclear power plant.

Sauli Väntti has been working at the Union for 21 years. Before being elected President he was in charge of collective bargaining in industry and special branches. Prior to his work for the Union he was employed as a telecommunications fitter.

The Union Council elected Väntti at the end of November when he received 40 votes against the 30 votes cast for the incumbent President Tero Heiniluoma. The latter had been President since May 2016, after Martti Alakoski, the President elected in 2004, stepped down.

The 36,000 member strong Finnish Electrical Workers´ Union was set up in 1955. Up until the recent elections a group now called Sähköliiton Edunvalvonnantekijät - which used to be close to Social Democrats - has had an overall majority on the Council.

Another group called Sähköistenalojen ammattilaiset - with some ties to the Left Alliance - formed a minority on the Council.

This time there were not two but three major lists of candidates, from both the traditional groups and a new one, Jäsenten Sähköliitto, whose main goal was to put an end to an organisation based on the existing groups.

Sähköliiton Edunvalvonnantekijät lost their absolute majority, winning only 32 seats on the Union Council. Sähköistenalojen ammattilaiset got 22 seats and the new list of Jäsenten Sähköliitto 16 seats.

Landmark court case with the Polish workers' rights

The Electrical Workers´ Union has been struggling for many years to get the full salary for the 186 Polish electrical workers at the construction site of the Olkiluoto 3 nuclear power plant. The project has gained notoriety for massive delays, skyrocketing costs and numerous legal problems with the labour force.

The Polish company Elektrobudowa SA, one of the sub-contractors in Olkiluoto 3 since 2009, has been paying salaries below the Electrical Workers´ Union collective agreement. The amount in question is several million euro.

The Union had already won one legal battle in the Court of Justice of the European Union. It confirmed in 2015 that an employee assigned from another EU-country must be paid according the Finnish collective agreement when working in Finland.

In November the Finnish Labour Court issued an opinion that the electrical work in Olkiluoto is covered by the Electrical Workers´ Union collective agreement.

This is a new victory for the Union goal to get both Finnish and foreign subcontractors to follow the national collective agreements in the branch concerned.

Read more:

Considerable number of Polish eletricians join the Finnish union (17.07.2011)

Weak control of foreign labour and companies cause major tax lossesWeak control of foreign labour and companies cause major tax losses (26.04.2012)