Helsinki (19.03.2020 - Heikki Jokinen) The Coronavirus pandemic is having an effect on the ongoing collective bargaining round, too. Agreements in industry and private services are more or less ready or approaching a decision, but very much open in the public services.

Several public services collective agreements are expiring at the end of March. Due to the coronavirus pandemic the public sector economy will face major challenges in the near future, and this does not make negotiations any easier.

There are different proposals as to how to cope with the situation. Tehy - The Union of Health and Social Care Professionals in Finland and Super - the Finnish Union of Practical Nurses propose that the collective bargaining in local government and private sectors should be interrupted due to the pandemic and a state of emergency declared by the Finnish Government on 16 March.

"On the basis of the meeting today, the local government employer is not showing serious enough concern for continuing these negotiations with any degree of urgency, so we do not see any reason to continue negotiations as things now stand", said Tehy President Millariikka Rytkönen and Super President Silja Paavola on 16 March.

Exceptional times require exceptional measures, the unions' statement says. Everyone in healthcare is now needed to carry out other duties. A return to the negotiation table will only happen once the state of emergency ends, Tehy and Super summarize.

Only a few days earlier Tehy and Super insisted on speeding up negotiations and finding solutions soon. This clearly did not work out.

For their part, the Local Government Employers KT wants to have the collective agreement done and dusted soon. This would guarantee services without disturbances.

However, KT makes it clear on what conditions the new collective agreement should be formulated. "Grandiose and disruptive demands are a threat to the well-being of Finns and vital services", KT says on 17 March.

JHL continues negotiations

JHL, the Trade Union for the Public and Welfare Sectors continues negotiations in several sectors. It says that the unions in the state collective agreement negotiations have a goal to speed up the process and get the agreement ready before it expires at the end of March.

If needed, the negotiations will be done by telecommuting, JHL says. This is already happening with the collective bargaining for the Evangelical Lutheran state church agreement.

The Negotiation Organisation for Public Sector Professionals JUKO propose to focus now on a quick solution and a maximum ten months agreement in public sector collective bargaining. This would mean a 22 - 23 month agreement done in two parts.

A pay rise would follow the general line as agreed upon in other sectors. The problematic 24 annual unpaid extra working hours could be dropped without compensation to the employers as the public sector has already had a 30 per cent cut in holiday bonus for three years 2017 - 2019.

JUKO covers many unions from Akava, the Confederation of Unions for Professional and Managerial Staff. JUKO is negotiating several collective agreements in the municipal and state sectors.

Read more:

Collective bargaining in industry and private services finally moves forward, public sector is still awaiting results (03.03.2020)