Helsinki (28.04.2015 - Heikki Jokinen) The share of trade union members is still strong in the Finnish Parliament after the elections on April 17. At the same time it was the worst performance for the left since the first elections in 1907.
Many new MPs have long-standing and extensive trade union experience. The former chairperson of the Central Organisation of Finnish Trade Unions SAK Lauri Ihalainen was re-elected to Parliament. He is the social democratic Minister of Labour in the outgoing government.
Former chairperson of Trade Union Pro Antti Rinne, also became a newly elected member of Parliament. He is currently Chairperson of the Social Democratic Party of Finland and is still the Minister of Finance until the formation of a new government.
Jaana Laitinen-Pesola, who represents the centre-right National Coalition Party, was chairperson of the Union of Health and Social Care Professionals Tehy 1997-2013. She has also been vice chairperson of the Finnish Confederation of Professionals STTK.
Some of the new MPs have worked in the past for SAK. The Speaker of the outgoing Parliament, Social Democrat Eero Heinäluoma had a long career there. The new Turkish born MP Ozan Yanar worked at SAK as a researcher. He represents the Green Party.
The populist right-wing Finns Party became the second largest party. Their Parliamentary group leader, Jari Lindström has 22 years work experience at a paper mill behind him and also served as a debuty shop steward in the Paper Workers' Union.
One out of ten MPs belongs to JHL
Some unions have made it known how many of their members were elected to the Parliament from among the 200 MPs. The Trade Union for the Public and Welfare Sectors JHL count 21 of their mostly rank-and-file members, The Social Science Professionals 12, The Service Union United PAM 6, The Metalworkers' Union 4, the Union of Health and Social Care Professionals Tehy 4 and Trade Union Pro 3. The list is not complete.
There are also 19 teachers in the new Parliament, most of whom who are members of the teachers' union OAJ. The medical doctors, lawyers, priests and journalists elected to Parliament are probably members of their own unions, as union density within these sectors tends to be very high.
Politically speaking, trade union members are representative of the whole political spectrum. Not surprisingly most of those coming from traditional working class professions are either Social Democrats of belong to the Left Alliance.
The populist right wing Finns Party is also getting a lot of support from workers and on their candidate lists there were many trade union activists and shop stewards.
The Finnish Police Federation have said that seven of the new MP's are policemen or -women, two of them representing the center-right Coalition Party and five the right wing party The Finns.
In the previous Parliament the number of trade union members was at least 120. It may now be the same or slightly less, as the victorious centre-right Centre Party includes quite a number of entrepreneurs and farmers whereas the normally well union represented left wing parties suffered losses.
The Social Democratic Party of Finland got 34 seats out of 200 and The Left Alliance 12.
Full election results (Yle News 22.4.2015)
Most MPs of the new Parliament are rank and file members of trade unions (24.04.2011)