Helsinki (15.06.2018 - Heikki Jokinen) Two Finnish trade unions are to amalgamate. Trade Union Pro and the Federation of Salaried Employees Pardia signed a letter of intent in mid June concerning the amalgamation.

Trade Union Pro with its 110,000 members is the largest private sector union for clerical employees, experts, supervisory and managerial staff. It has a strong presence in industry, finance, ICT, communications and the service industries.

The Federation of Salaried Employees Pardia has 30,000 members working both in the state and private sectors. Most work in governmental offices and institutions, and some work in public utility companies and enterprises, universities and the Social Insurance Institution of Finland.

Both unions are members of the Finnish Confederation of Professionals STTK.

Helsinki (07.06.2018 - Heikki Jokinen) The Finnish Government has in practise ended any tripartite consensus when drafting legislation, according to the Central Organisation of Finnish Trade Unions SAK.

Tripartite negotiations and agreements have long been a well-established way to resolve major social issues. Governments have, until now,  been able to use the knowledge of all parties and engage them in a concerted effort to tackle issues in a practical way and reach common agreement, SAK says.

Thus, tripartite negotiations have, for decades, been the birthplace of many major social reforms. Some recent examples are the national pact for employment and growth in 2015 with ultra moderate pay rises and reform of the pension system in 2014. With genuine tripartite participation it was possible to make changes without political and social turbulence.

JHL (25.05.2018 - Heikki Jokinen) JHL, the Trade Union for the Public and Welfare Sectors is also working for a decent working life globally. It promotes several projects in other parts of the world with the aim of improving employee rights to organise and negotiate collectively on the terms of employment.

An important partner in this work is the Trade Union Solidarity Centre of Finland SASK. The latter is the solidarity and development cooperation organisation of several Finnish trade unions which promotes decent work and core labour standards around the world.

The ongoing projects of JHL and SASK can be seen first hand at the World Village Festival in Helsinki May 26-27.

Helsinki (22.05.2018 - Heikki Jokinen) The plans of the Federation of Finnish Enterprises to get their employees to leave the union unemployment funds has been widely criticised. The trade unions are flabbergasted, too.

Mikael Pentikäinen, the CEO of the Federation of Finnish Enterprises announced in May that the federation is encouraging their member companies to pay unemployment fund fees for those employees who belong to the private YTK fund instead of the union funds.

Pentikäinen wrote with surprising honesty that the very aim of the action is to "create more pressure to reform the labour markets". According to him the entrepreneurs are running out of patience with how "the trade union movement puts a brake on necessary labour market reform and prevents enterprises and their employees from making local agreements concerning terms of employment".

Unemployment funds are traditionally set up and administered by the trade unions and work in co-operation with the unions. YTK fund is an exception to this rule, a private fund without connection to the trade unions.

Helsinki (18.05.2018 - Heikki Jokinen) From the beginning of June zero-hours contracts will become a legal part of Finnish working life. The new legislation will stipulate some limits, but does little to tackle the actual problem.

The trade union movement has been struggling for a long time against zero-hours contracts. These set the weekly working hours from zero to 40, also giving the employer the possibility to hire staff with no guarantee of work.

This situation affects young people mostly: according to Statistics Finland nearly one-half of those working zero-hours contracts were aged under 25, and 65 per cent were under 30 in the year 2014. A majority of those with zero-hours contracts, 57 per cent in all were women.

According to Statistics Finland estimates 83,000 Finns were working zero-hours contracts in 2014. This accounts for four per cent of the total workforce.

Helsinki (30.04.2018 - Heikki Jokinen) The new statistics show that the fears surrounding the new amended employment security legislation have unfortunately come true. More than half of those receiving unemployment benefit from the SAK unions' funds have seen their benefits cut.

The Finnish Government last year introduced legislation stipulating that an unemployed job-seeker may forfeit 4.65 percent of his or her benefit if they are deemed to be less than active in their search for employment.

This means that the job-seeker must either find employment for 18 hours in a three month period, receive entrepreneurial income of at least 241 euro or participate in a five day training course or for other services offered by the employment offices.

The new law has now been in effect for three months and the unemployment funds are able to draw their first conclusions.

JHL (19.04.2018 - Heikki Jokinen) The recent changes in unemployment security cut benefits but do not help in finding a job, says Teija Asara-Laaksonen, the Chief Executive Officer of JHL.

From the beginning of this year unemployed job seekers are seeing their benefits cut by 4.65 per cent in each three month period unless they succeed in finding employment temporarily, receive some entrepreneurial income or participate in training offered by the employment offices.

The Finnish Government pushed the cuts through claiming they will activate job seekers and improve employment prospects. The trade union movement vehemently opposed the proposed measures, arguing that in real terms all this amounted to was simply a cut in benefits which does little to help in finding a new job.

Now JHL, the Trade Union for the Public and Welfare Sectors can show some figures to assess what has actually happened as a result.

Helsinki (18.04.2018 - Heikki Jokinen) The trade unions have been vocal in their criticism of the Government decision to weaken employment security for those under 30 years of age or those working in companies with less than 20 employees.

On 11 April, the Government agreed the General Government Fiscal Plan for 2019–2022.

It will amend the Employment Contracts Act by allowing an employer to make, without restrictions, fixed-term employment contracts with anyone under 30 years of age who has been an unemployed job seeker for at least three months.

The existing legislation demands a justifiable reason for a fixed-term employment contract.

Helsinki (23.03.2018 - Heikki Jokinen) The ongoing round of collective bargaining has been going on now for nearly eight months.The  employers' joint coordination throughout the negotiations has been very firm, say trade union leaders.

Finland had a tradition of broad national labour market pacts until the employers' umbrella organisation Confederation of Finnish Industries EK announced that it was no longer willing to be a part of any nationally coordinated labour market pact.

Therefore, collective bargaining is now taking place at union level. Which means the broader scopes are not being set at a national level as before.

PRO (15.03.2018 - Heikki Jokinen) Negotiations surrounding a new collective agreement for the financial services sector remain deadlocked. Trade Union Pro has issued new strike warnings for March and April in a bid to speed up the stalled negotiations.

The main reason for the deadlock is the employers' uncompromising demand for unilateral control over working hours, including weekends. The pay rise question has not yet been resolved either.

Antti Hakala, Director of the Finance Sector in Trade Union Pro says that the Union is ready to make a deal that would mean weekend work could be agreed locally at individual workplaces according to the needs of both the company and employees. The employers do not accept this and want to have sole power when it comes to deciding on weekend work.