Helsinki (16.11.2022 - Heikki Jokinen) Akava congress elected Maria Löfgren as the new President of the trade union confederation. She beat Jari Jokinen comfortably, by getting 514 votes to his 383.
Before the congress, support for both candidates seemed to be quite even, with perhaps a slight lead showing in Löfgren’s favour. However, on the day of the congress, the result soon became clear, as more unions said they would support Löfgren. Among these were unions like the Finnish Medical Association (47 votes) and The Union of Professionals in Natural, Environmental and Forestry Sciences Loimu (22 votes).
In general, but not exclusively, Löfgren enjoyed more support from those unions working mainly in the public sector or having a major share of female members. Jokinen’s stronghold tended to centre around unions with members working mainly in the private sector, technology and business - and being often male-dominated unions.
It was not a gender issue, though. It was more a question of income level. The female-dominated public sector union members' salaries are often far below those of the male-dominated technology and business union members. This means that their strategy in several advocacy issues are somewhat different.
Common to both candidates was the wish to stabilise the internal situation in Akava following the departure of the previous president, Sture Fjäder. His leadership style became controversial causing many heated debates both inside and outside Akava.
Löfgren is a lawyer by profession, and currently working as the executive director of an internal Akava organisation, the Negotiation Organisation for Public Sector Professionals - JUKO. Her mandate will last until Spring 2024, as Sture Fjäder left before his mandate had come to an end.
During the Fjäder presidency Akava withdrew from Finunions, the Finnish trade union movement office in Brussels and the Labour Institute for Economic Research PT (now called Labore). Both were well established joint organisations of all three Finnish trade union confederations.
In a tweet after the elections, Löfgren stressed the cooperation between Akava and other two trade union confederations, SAK and STTK. Only time will tell whether Akava's inclination to separate itself from the other confederations will continue.
Akava, the Confederation of Unions for Professional and Managerial Staff, has 36 member unions which had a total of 614,788 members at the beginning of this year.
Exciting and even race for Akava presidency (04.11.2022)
Akava President Sture Fjäder moves on to politics (26.08.2022)