Helsinki (21.06.2022 - Heikki Jokinen) Sture Fjäder will resign his position as President of Akava this autumn, much earlier than expected. His term was due to end in Spring 2024. Fjäder's announcement comes amid reports by Finnish media that there was a secret written and signed deal requiring Fjäder to step down this autumn. This deal was not disclosed at the time.
Fjäder has been leading Akava, the Confederation of Unions for Professional and Managerial Staff in Finland, since 2011. He was re-elected President on 25 August 2020. He received 578 votes against 292 votes for Maria Teikari, the Service Director at the Social Science Professionals YKA, one of the Akava member unions.
Only a short time after that, on 9 September 2020 Fjäder signed a deal saying that he would vacate the presidency in Autumn 2022. The other three signatories to this arrangement were the leaders of three major Akava Unions.
The first to reveal that Fjäder would step down early was MTV Uutiset on Friday June 17. On the same day, Helsingin Sanomat published the secret deal. This caused a major debate in Akava, as many unions did not know of the secret deal.
Already on Sunday 19 June Fjäder issued a press release that he will resign the presidency this Autumn. On Monday 20 June he faced the press in a separate press conference.
Now, in a press conference on 20 June, Fjäder said that he did not want to be a party to this deal but signed it as he was already then thinking of leaving in the middle of his term.
According to Fjäder, some people wanted this deal to be sure that he leaves in order to support him in the election. Fjäder admits that by omitting to clarify that he would not serve the whole term, he would have got less votes in the election for President.
Fjäder has occasionally been a controversial person in Akava. In 2018, some Akava unions put forward a no confidence vote in the President. The Akava Board voted on this and the result was that Sture Fjäder retained their confidence by a majority vote of 15 to 5.
According to magazine Demokraatti, in 2020 Fjäder had such an employment contract with Akava that entitled him to a full salary until the end of 2022, even in the event that he was not re-elected as president.
Had Fjäder lost the election in Congress in August 2020 Akava would still have been obliged to pay a President’s salary to Fjäder till the end of 2022. The amount would not have been trivial. In 2020 his total taxable remuneration was 240,762 euro.
Due to his contract some unions wanted, as a condition for their support, to be sure Fjäder would leave as soon as his guaranteed pay expired.This explains, at least partly, the wish to draft a deal whereby Fjäder promises to resign in the middle of his term.
In November, Akava Congress will elect a new President for the remander of Fjäder's term until Spring 2024. Two candidates have already announced their interest.
Jari Jokinen, Secretary General of Academic Engineers and Architects in Finland TEK, announced immediately that he would be a candidate for the Akava President.
The Association of Finnish Lawyers named Maria Löfgren as their candidate. She is now working as the Secretary General of JUKO, the Negotiation Organisation for Public Sector Professionals.
One thing that may influence the election is party politics. Sture Fjäder is a member of the right-wing National Coalition party and according to the media Jari Jokinen is a supporter of the same party, too. Traditionally, the party is strong in Akava. Maria Löfgren stresses that she is party politically neutral.
Another issue, that might also prove to be important, is the division between private sector and public sector unions. Their labour market goals are at variance in some respects.
Akava has 36 affiliates with 615,000 unionised members working as employees, entrepreneurs and self-employed professionals in either the public or private sector. The members join one of Akava’s affiliates based on their field of study, degree, profession or position.
Sture Fjäder re-elected as Akava President (26.08.2020)
Two candidates for Akava President (15.05.2020)