Helsinki (24.11.2014 - Heikki Jokinen) Improving the negotiation culture at working places would cut clearly the number of industrial disputes, a survey carried out for the Central Organisation of Finnish Trade Unions SAK reveals.

The survey was conducted in November 2014 for the SAK unions shop stewards and industrial safety delegates and based on 960 replies.

Better staff policy and negotiation culture would very much reduce the number of industrial disputes, believe 71 per cent of those replied.

How to make the negotiation process smoother? By taking care that the employees' opinions are listened to better, say 29 per cent of those who replied in the survey. By limiting the employers priority interpreting collective agreements, says 27 per cent. By making sure that the employees will get sufficient information, says 22 per cent.

A total of 58 per cent said that in their working place there have been disagreements on how to interpret collective agreements several times a year. Problems come up monthly, say 13 per cent. Six per cent of those who replied reported weekly problems.

Problems in negotiations with employers seem to be most common in the transport sector, where 62 per cent reported disagreements. In every sector it seems to be that the bigger the working place, the more disagreements on how to read or interpret agreements.

End to dictating

The most common problem in regard to negotiations revolves around the employers’ determination to dictate the solutions, 26 per cent said. The other common problems are that employees' opinions are not taken into account (16 per cent) and the solutions are not discussed jointly by employers and employees (15 per cent).

Based on the answers of those who replied it seems to be that industrial disputes are mostly down to the attitude of employers, SAK sums up.

A major part of industrial disputes could be avoided by developing the negotiation culture of companies”, says Director Janne Metsämäki from SAK office of Collective Bargaining, Legal and Social Affairs.

The problem with the negotiation system is that in many working places there are no negotiations.”

In the previous similar survey in December 2013 one out of three of those who replied said that behind the disagreements breaches by employer were often the cause.

The surveys reveal that in disagreements over how to interpret collective agreements solutions should be sought in tandem with employees. A unilateral decision making approach just makes the problems worse”, Metsämäki says.