Helsinki (28.01.2015 - Heikki Jokinen) Zero-hours contracts should be outlawed. This is the wish expressed in a citizens’ initiative aimed at the Finnish parliament. If the initiative succeeds in collecting enough signatures, the Finnish Parliament will debate and deliberate on the matter.

Behind the initiative are young trade union activists. The Youth Secretary of the Central Organization of Finnish Trade Unions SAK, Tatu Tuomela, says that the youth of SAK stands firmly behind the initiative.

”Zero-hours contracts and part-time work are a reality for many young workers”, he says.

These are contracts where the weekly working hours varies from zero to 40, also giving the employer the possibility to hire staff with no guarantee of work. Employees therefore work only when they are needed by employers and cannot usually know in advance how many hours they can expect.

Young activists started Operaatio vakiduuni (Operation steady job) to fight against zero-hours contracts. They are demanding that zero-hours contracts be outlawed and part-time jobs should guarantee at least 18 hours of work per week.

Other demands include better information on the working hours in advance, better unemployment benefit for part time workers and better conditions for those working for  temporary work agencies.

One part of the campaign is the citizens’ initiative. It is a system that enables a minimum of 50,000 Finnish citizens of voting age to submit an initiative to the Parliament to enact an act. The initiative must include a bill or a proposal to start drafting legislation and the reasons for the proposal.

In the first one and half weeks the initiative has collected some 2 600 signatures. There is a six month time period to collect signatures.

The citizens’ initiative as an instrument for bringing about changes in legislation (should parliament agree with the proposals) began in March 2012. So far there has been 305 citizens' initiative. Out of these 272 failed to collect enough signatures and five has been submitted to parliament. One has been accepted by parliament, the proposal for gender neutral marriage.

Operaatio vakiduuni (in Finnish and Swedish)