Helsinki (04.12.2017 - Heikki Jokinen) The amalgamated Industrial Union has held its first Congress setting out Union strategy and selected the new union leadership. Riku Aalto has been elected President.

The Industrial Union is a merger of three unions, the Industrial Union TEAM, the Woodworkers’ Union and the Finnish Industrial Union, the former Metal Workers' Union.

The Congress in Tampere 28-30 November was the first joint Congress and the new Union will begin its work officially from the beginning of 2018.

With 226,000 members the Industrial Union will be the second largest union in Finland, just behind the Service Union United PAM. 79 per cent of the Industrial Union members are men.

Riku Aalto, the President of the Union said in his speech to the Congress that he wants to see the new Union become the most influential union in Finland.

Greater influence carries greater responsibility. Our outlook and programme must be legitimate and based on a wider view than the one needed only to advocate industrial workers interests, Aalto said.

"For this reason we will be adopting a more comprehensive responsibility towards society in general and the promotion of welfare in particular. So we will be working not only to negotiate and sign collective agreements, but also to advance goals concerning industrial policy and unemployment protection. In short, social advocacy will have a significant role in our work."

In the initial plans for a union merger the Paper Workers' Union were also involved. But sometime later it opted to remain independent.

Riku Aalto is keeping the door open for new cooperation and mergers. He encourages the view that it may be possible in Finland for there to be only one union for industry. "Even though merger is a heavy process, it is the only way to move forward."

Riku Aalto has been the President for the Metal Workers' Union since 2008. As the first Vice President the Congress elected Turja Lehtonen who has been working as the Union Secretary of the Metal Workers' Union.

The second Vice President is the former President of the Industrial Union TEAM, Heli Puura and the third Vice President Jari Nilosaari, who was President of the Woodworkers’ Union.

33 collective agreements

The Industrial Union is the result of a long line of amalgamations. The roots of all three Unions now amalgamated go back to the 19th century.

Book printers began to organise in Helsinki in 1869 and on national level in 1894. Shoe makers joined forces and formed one national union in August 1897.

Helsinki metal workers started their local union in 1886 and the national metal workers' union was established in 1899. Carpenters organised in 1899, too, into a national union.

The new amalgamated union negotiates and signs 33 collective agreements. Most of these are national and generally binding, which means that all enterprises in the industry must follow and abide by the agreement.

There are four sectors in the Union: chemical, technology, wood products and special branches.

The chemical sector includes 11 collective agreements like basic chemicals, precious metals, rubber, brush making, glass and ceramics, tyres and oil, gas and petrochemical products.

The technology sectors cover ore mines, the technology industry and sheet and industrial insulation.

The wood product sector covers the mechanical forestry industry, bio industry and carpentry.

The special branches sector covers 15 areas of collective agreements. Many of these cover rural industries and agricultural professions, but there are also areas like textiles and garments, book workers and newspaper delivery.

Read more:
The Finnish Industrial Union is born - three unions decided to merge (22.05.2017)