Helsinki (24.09.2015 - Heikki Jokinen) The trade unions are attracting significantly more new members since the Government announced its latest plans for austerity measures and the decision to limit the scope for freedom of agreement when it comes to labour market negotiations.

Figures for new members became apparent immediately after the Government plans become public on 8 September. In just one week following these Government plans the Service Union United PAM got more new members than ever, in one week, during its 15 years of existence.

Unwittingly, Prime Minister Sipilä has been the best recruiting sergeant ever for union membership”, rejoices PAM Chairperson Ann Selin. In order to appreciate what has been happening we only need to look at PAM’s recent application statistics. With more than 500 new members in one day - its best achievement so far - the union is clearly on a roll.

During those seven days the number of those who left the union was three hundred less than normal at the same time of the year, according to PAM Head of Membership Services Unit Heidi Lehikoinen.

At the beginning of the year PAM had 232,381 members.

On a normal day we get around one hundred new members. On 9 September the number was double”, says the 230,176 member strong Trade Union for the Public and Welfare Sectors JHL Head of Membership Services Unit, Pertti Paajanen.

In just one week JHL attracted more than 600 new members. This is triple the number we can usually expect. The number of those who left the union was no more than usual.

The effect of the Government announcement of its plans was immediate, says Pekka Soini, JHL Head of Organisational Affairs.

The wage and salary earners working both in the public and private sectors are taking a stand against the Government’s plans by joining the union. This might be a sign of a wage and salary earners counter-attack”, Soini says.

Organising level remains high

As of to date, these union figures, concerning newly joined members, only reflect what has been recorded on the internet. It is expected that many others will join in the more conventional way - by filling out a form.

Trade Union Pro is attracting more than a hundred new members a day on the web, says Sector Chief Annemarje Salonen. This is as much as on a normal week last year.

The number of members quitting Pro remains at existing levels, some people per day. Pro has some 120,000 members.

Membership of the Trade Union of Education OAJ has been going in both directions, says Director of Organisational Affairs Pasi Pesonen. But the number of those who joined during one week is triple in comparison with the teachers who left the union.

The 120,400 member strong OAJ have had hundreds of new members in one week.

In the Union of Journalists in Finland there has not been any dramatic change in membership. The reason for this may be fairly straightforward: the organising density in this 15,000 member union is already very high, especially among employed journalists. Those who do not yet belong to the union are relatively few.

In general trade union density in Finland is relatively high, at 64.5 per cent. In OECD statistics only Iceland pips Finland in trade union membership.

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Finland still on top when it comes to trade union density (02.09.2015)