Helsinki (13.08.1999 - Juhani Artto) Electricians Union members award good marks to their union and are also eager to participate in its work. These are the main findings of a new study made by professor Harri Melin of the University of Tampere. The researcher himself finds the level of willingness to participate surprisingly high.

More than 60 per cent of 1,000 randomly selected members completed the questionnaire. The union has 29,000 members in the energy sector, telecommunications, the construction industry and in maintenance duties in various industries.

The most important factor identified by the respondents was job security (53 %), followed by a good income (28 %) and interesting work. In a corresponding study conducted in 1985, job security and pay level were equally important. This change primarily reflects the growing insecurity felt by workers in the current highly competitive working life of the late 1990s and the deep recession in the Finnish economy which immediately preceded this situation.

Workers in regular jobs appreciate them more than those in casual jobs.

One in four members are ready to take responsible positions in the union organisation. This rate was highest (30 %) in the construction industry and lowest (23 %) in the energy sector. At large workplaces 29 per cent responded positively to the question about willingness to get involved. This eagerness was even stronger (32 %) among unemployed members. However, the greatest enthusiasm came from members still studying in vocational institutions (44 %). The rate was 31 per cent in age groups below 30 and between 30 and 39, which was clearly higher than in the older age groups.

Willingness to participate in union education was also strong.

Roughly half of the members were satisfied with the work of the shop stewards and of the union as a whole. The smaller the workplace, the better marks respondents gave to their union. However, at large work places union influence was considered to be stronger than at small workplaces.

The union's tabloid bulletin Vasama - mailed 15-16 times a year to all members - plays an important role in informing the rank and file. Two-thirds acknowledged its value as the source of all the union information they need. Vasama's importance is especially great in small workplaces and for the unemployed.

One in ten members access the Internet daily and 40 per cent use it at least once a week. One-sixth of the membership uses e-mail at home, while one-fifth uses it at work.