JHL (23.11.2017 - Heikki Jokinen) Cooperation among the five Nordic countries in many areas is a feature of life, and the same holds true for trade union work. A new step in this cooperation occurred when JHL Bargaining Officer Veikko Lehtonen took up part time work at the Norwegian union Fagforbundet in Oslo in November.

Lehtonen’s work at Fagforbundet is to focus on the terms of employment for personal assistants.

– My task is to think how we can better organise personal assistants and improve their terms of employment. We are also comparing Norwegian and Finnish legislation, Lehtonen says.

There are some 20 – 30,000 personal assistants in Finland to provide personal assistance for seriously disabled people.

JHL, the Trade Union for the Public and Welfare Sectors has been actively developing new forms of advocacy for them like virtual tools on the web. Building effective forms of peer support for personal assistants is also an important goal for JHL.

Fagforbundet, with its 360,000 members, is the biggest Union in the Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions LO. Health and social work is one on Fagforbundet’s four sections.

According to Veikko Lehtonen personal assistants face quite similar problems in both countries. The work tends to be lonely and there is no peer support.

Neither Finland nor Norway have for the time being their own training for personal assistants. This might be one issue both Unions are keen to further collaborate on.

Fagforbundet is also interested in the web site JHL has created for personal assistants.

Lehtonen says there is surprisingly little knowledge in Norway as to what happens in Finland and vice versa, even though the structures of both societies are similar.

– We have much to learn from each other. We do not have to re-invent everything, we are in the happy position of being able to copy best practices.

Read more:

New forms of advocacy for personal assistants (28.02.2017)