Helsinki (21.01.2021 - Heikki Jokinen) Two Finnish trade union confederations SAK and STTK view the EU Commission proposal for a minimum wage positively and support its objectives. The federations issued a joint statement on this in December.

They attach much importance to the fact that the draft directive is strongly based on the promotion of collective bargaining. The federations place great value on promoting a system based on sectoral collective agreements in the member states as a key element in the proposal. This resembles the Finnish labour market model, too.

"The directive must support an increase in the minimum wage, especially in low-wage EU countries, and the best way to do this is through collective bargaining", the federations say. A comprehensive collective bargaining system is the wage and salary earners' best friend, experience has shown.

Helsinki (17.12.2020 - Heikki Jokinen) The Finnish Government proposes to amend the law to oblige employers to pay compensation to employees for all non-compete clauses in their employment contracts. Trade unions have long drawn attention to the fact that the existing law is unfair and has led to a fast and wildly growing number of such clauses.

At the moment, it is legal, under certain conditions and for a maximum of half a year, to limit an employee’s right to take a new job in the same trade or start up their own business in the same business area of their former employer.

The core of the problem is that - for up to six months - this kind of ban costs the employer nothing. The use of non-compete clauses has been extended to many professions where there are no real grounds for it at all.

Helsinki (01.12.2020 - Heikki Jokinen) The Finnish forest industry decision to unilaterally terminate national level collective bargaining is clearly a risk for companies in that sector and a leap into unchartered waters, says Jarkko Eloranta, President of the Central Organisation of Finnish Trade Unions SAK.

"The impacts of the forest industry’s decision are significant, the risks are considerable and mostly unknown as of yet. Companies don’t generally invite risk and unpredictability - they prefer control and predictability", Eloranta told the SAK Delegate Council meeting in November.

"And a functioning national collective bargaining system can deliver this. It does not offer clear victory for either side but it promises constant and predictable results that serve to build the economy and labour market."

15.11.2020 - (Heikki Jokinen) On Friday 13 November, the trade union Pro representative body elected Jorma Malinen to remain in charge of the union for the period 2020 - 2024. He has been Pro President since 2014.

"Our most important product in the labour market and for our members is collective bargaining and advocacy. One could say that it is the justification for our existence", Malinen said in the meeting.

However, we are going through times when doubt is being sown about the legitimacy of comprehensive collective agreements, Malinen said. He takes the forest industry as a front-line example. The employer's Finnish Forest Industries Federation FFIF announced in October that it will no longer participate in any national level collective bargaining.

Helsinki (12.11.2020 - Heikki Jokinen) The City of Oulu has distributed gift vouchers as a reward to those employees who did not participate in the strikes in September and October. JHL, the Trade Union for the Public and Welfare Sectors were incensed at this move by the City.

JHL, together with the Federation of Public and Private Sector Employees Jyty opposed the plans to outsource food, cleaning and ICT services in Oulu. This led to a one-day warning strike at the end of September followed by a three-day strike one week later.

The City Council, however, voted in favour of outsourcing. After a tied vote the council chairperson’s casting vote proved decisive.

Helsinki (03.11.2020 - Heikki Jokinen) Food couriers are employees, not entrepreneurs, says Finland's Labour Council. It released two statements on the issue in October. Service Union United PAM welcomes the statements.

The Council is an independent special authority under the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment. It issues opinions on labour legislation, but the statements are not legally binding. Three of the members represent wage and salary earners, three the employers and three are independent experts.

The Regional State Administrative Agency requested opinions from the Labour Council regarding the application of the Working Hours Act to food couriers of two companies. The key issue was whether a food courier is to be considered an employee or an entrepreneur.

Helsinki (14.10.2020 - Heikki Jokinen) The Union of Insurance Employees in Finland VvL and Trade Union pro are set to merge from the beginning of 2021. The VvL Council agreed to the amalgamation during a meeting in October. The Board of Pro has already approved the decision and it will be endorsed at the Pro representative body meeting in November.

The field of work of VvL is insurance, finance and the investment sector. Trade Union Pro organises trained professionals, experts and managerial staff in both the private and public sectors.

"It is significant for both the insurance sector and for the whole finance sector that advocacy should be concentrated in one place", says Liisa Halme, President of the VvL.

Helsinki (05.10.2020 - Heikki Jokinen) The forest industry announced on 1 October that it will no longer participate in collective bargaining. The decision was prepared secretly and left both unions and the nation flabbergasted. The existing seven collective agreements are valid until they expire either at the beginning or during the year 2022. After that, every company or factory must make their own agreements.

This is a situation that is completely new in modern Finland. Unions have existed for more than one hundred years and in January 1940 - in the middle of the Winter War against the Soviet Union - employers accepted unions and the Confederation SAK as partners in collective bargaining.

But now, the Finnish Forest Industries Federation FFIF claims that collective agreements are too rigid and restrictive as individual companies are very different from each other. Therefore they want to speed up agreements at company and factory level. The solution is to close the door to the unions.

Helsinki (02.10.2020 - Heikki Jokinen) The new collective agreement for employees and supervisors within tourism, restaurant and leisure services was born under very special circumstances. The agreement was approved on 1 October and covers some 75 000 employees.

The coronavirus pandemic has left the hospitality sector in a dire economic situation. The number of customers has fallen off dramatically and there has been and will continue to be various restrictions on opening hours and seating arrangements in restaurants.

Collective bargaining for this branch should have taken place in the Spring, but due to the very uncertain future the agreement was extended until the end of September. Now, the Service Union United PAM has reached a deal with the employers' association Mara.

Helsinki (01.10.2020 - Heikki Jokinen) A crucial discussion on the role of the National Conciliator has been ongoing for some time in Finland. Now, the think tank Akava Works has published a comparative report on the machinery for conciliating collective bargaining in several countries.

Professor emeritus Niklas Bruun is the author of the report. He has compared conciliating institutions in the Nordic countries, Belgium, Estonia and Germany.

The goal of the report was not to propose or build a new conciliation model in Finland, Niklas Bruun says in the press release. However, during the study he began to think that the Finnish system needed an overhaul.