Helsinki (16.02.2017 - Heikki Jokinen) The Act on Co-operation within Undertakings must be reformed completely, insists the Finnish Confederation of Professionals STTK. The existing law is not working as it was set out to do, in seeking to strengthen co-operation between employer and employees at the workplace.

The Act says its goal is to "promote the undertakings and its personnel’s interactive co-operation procedures" and to "collectively develop operations of an undertaking and the employees’ opportunities to exercise influence in the decisions made within the undertaking relating to their work, their working conditions and their position in the undertaking".

The purpose of the law is also to "improve the position of the employees and to support their employment in relation to changes in the operations of the undertaking".

The Act stipulates that in all undertakings with at least 20 employees, any planned redundancies are subject to mandatory consultation with personnel representatives.

"The Act has become merely a law on redundancies", says STTK President Antti Palola. The original goals for employees to be kept informed and have the opportunity to exercise influence have been buried, he adds.

"The existing Act is administratively heavy and abstruse also for employers", Palola says. It emphasizes formal things and time limits and as a result does little to advance genuine co-operation, Palola underlines.

The current legislation does not promote local bargaining at company level either, even though it has been set as an important goal especially by the Finnish Government.

Jorma Malinen, President of the STTK member union Trade Union Pro says that the employee co-operation negotiations have got a bad reputation among employees in the undertakings.

"The Act has never worked according to the spirit of the law. Employers have followed it purely as a law for procedures. They make sure that the time limits written into the Act are fulfilled in order to make redundancies which are technically in line with the law."

Malinen says there is extremely little genuine co-operation at working places. "For this reason we now propose that the Act on Co-operation within Undertakings should be renewed and the paragraphs dealing with redundancies should be moved to the Employment Contracts Act", Malinen says.

STTK published a concrete proposal, where the existing Act on Co-operation within Undertakings would be split in two.The first part would be a law on changes in undertakings like reforming the company or redundancies. These could stay within the existing law or be moved to the Employment Contracts Act.

The second part would be a completely new law devoted to genuine co-operation and developing the working place. This law would include issues like continuous dialogue, promoting well-being at work and developing employee competence.

This law would clearly stipulate all employers' and employees' rights and responsibilities in developing the working place.