Helsinki (22.05.2017 - Heikki Jokinen) The way clear for the merger of the Industrial Union TEAM, the Metal Workers' Union and the Woodworkers’ Union is now complete. All three unions have endorsed the merger unanimously.
The reason behind the amalgamation is to ensure that the voice of industrial workers will continue to be heard in the future. Measures attempting to restrict workers’ rights and their unions have been intensifying in Finland of late, and the unions must fight back.
The new amalgamated union will represent around 75 per cent of workers involved in Finland's export of goods. This will naturally mean the newly amalgamated union is in a very much stronger position when it comes to collective bargaining.
Even though union density in Finland is still high by international standards, these three unions, set to join forces, have lost a total of 35 000 members since 2005. So there is a certain urgency for the new union to ensure their work is more effective, to find synergies and look for new ways to guarantee organising in working places.
The decision on amalgamation is the result of careful planning which has been going on since autumn 2015. Many earlier plans for a major industrial union fusion have failed in the past.
The Metal Workers' Union Congress 17-18.5.2017 decided to change the name of the union to the Finnish Industrial Union and adopted new statutes.
The Councils of the Industrial Union TEAM and the Woodworkers’ Union decided on the same day to terminate their unions at the end of this year. Their local chapters will join the Finnish Industrial Union before then.
More than 226.000 members
The new joint union will begin operating at the beginning of 2018. With its 226.000 members it will be the second largest trade union in Finland.
Each union currently has their own separate unemployment fund. These will also merge and the new joint unemployment fund is set to commence in January 2018 also.
The Finnish Industrial Union will keep all 33 collective agreements the three unions have now. Collective bargaining will be organised in four sectors: chemicals, technology, wood products and special branches.
The number of local chapters in the new Union will be 715. In 2015 the three Unions collected a total of 47.8 million euro in union dues.
All 230 employees of the Unions and 120 employees connected to their unemployment funds will be employed by the newly amalgamated union and its unemployment fund.
The name of the new Union in Finnish is Teollisuusliitto, in Swedish Industrifacket. The union will have two official languages, Finnish and Swedish. Finland has a Swedish speaking minority of a bit more than five per cent of population.
The first joint Congress of the Finnish Industrial Union will take place at the end of November this year. It will elect the 83 member union council, union president, three vice presidents and the union board.
The new leaders of the union have already been chosen. The new president will be Riku Aalto, the President of the Metal Workers' Union since 2008. The first Vice President will be Turja Lehtonen who has been working as the Union Secretary of the Metal Workers' Union.
The Industrial Union TEAM has put forward their President Heli Puura as a candidate for the second Vice President and the Woodworkers’ Union their President Jari Nilosaari as the third Vice President.
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