Helsinki (23.02.2018 - Heikki Jokinen) Collective bargaining in the retail and facilities service sector has yielded no results so far. The main stumbling block is the pay rise question.

With negotiations deadlocked the Service Union United PAM has now initiated an overtime ban and a ban on accumulating a positive flextime balance in the retail sector. There are some 250,000 employees in this sector.

On Thursday 22 February PAM the Executive Committee decided to go back to the bargaining table and resume negotiations, set to begin again on Monday 26 February.

The main issue is the pay rise. If this were to be calculated solely in percentage terms, it would widen the pay gap between low paid retail staff and for example better paid industry employees.

PAM wants to have pay rises that would also guarantee positive income development for those earning less. In this model at least a part of the pay rise would be in euro terms and the rest in percentage terms.

PAM President Ann Selin says in the PAM press release that the Union also proposed several issues to be decided at company level between shop steward and employer.

"The employers’ federation rejected these proposals of ours, however. They wanted employers to have the right to impose these matters directly. Then employers would decide by themselves how it would be implemented", Selin says.

"For years, more local agreement has been the collective message from employers. The reason for that has been that people in the workplace know best how things can be made to work. Now the real reason is beginning to emerge: it’s not so much about negotiating matters locally, rather it’s about employers having the power to decree", she adds.

Strike warning for the facilities services

PAM has also issued an overtime ban in the facilities services sector. It applies to cleaners, building managers and janitors. There already have been some walk-outs of PAM members in the sector in a bid to speed up stalled negotiations.

The Real Estate Employers have proposed drastic cutbacks in employees’ working conditions, PAM says.

"Among other things, they are proposing ending all compensation for Saturdays, evenings preceding public holidays, Sundays and weekday public holidays and various extensions to daily working time that employers could unilaterally impose on employees", according to PAM.

The Union calculates that the proposal would cut labour costs in the sector by eight per cent. The views of the negotiating parties were so far away from one another that the negotiations came to a halt.

PAM then issued a strike warning for 1 March. This would cover 12 companies and 1,100 employees. Another three-day strike is scheduled to begin on 12 March.

The case is now on the table of the National Conciliator Minna Helle.

Several collective agreements are still wide open in this negotiation round, especially in the public sector and private services sector. This may lead to a number of strikes in March.

The latest new collective bargaining to yield results concerns private health and social services. JHL, the Trade Union for the Public and Welfare Sectors and

Tehy, the Union of Health and Social Care Professionals in Finland announced they were satisfied with the deal - a 26 month agreement with a 3.47 per cent pay rise. This is in line with the general pay rise trend that most collective agreements have followed during this round of negotiations.

Read also:

JHL issues a strike warning to three sectors (20.02.2018)