Helsinki (07.12.1998) In Finland a huge majority, i.e. 87 %, is of the opinion that difficulties in coping with workloads, and even burn out, currently constitute a major problem at work. Only 28 % think that productivity could be increased even further in order to be more competitive in the international market place.

These results were discovered during a survey on the present labour market climate, which was conducted by Finnish Gallup on behalf of SAK, the Central Organisation of Finnish Trade Unions. During August and September, 1021 Finns over the age of 15 were interviewed. These interviewees were representative of the population of that age group throughout Finland, with the exception of the Åland Islands.

The problem of coping with workloads is particularly significant amongst the members of SAK, at 91 %, and amongst those of STTK, the Finnish Confederation of Salaried Employees, at 96 %. Excessively tight work schedules were mentioned by 84 % of the members of AKAVA, the Confederation of Unions for Academic Professionals in Finland. Women are more concerned with the complications resulting from workload difficulties and cases of burn out, 92 % of them seeing this as an issue, whilst 81 % of men have a similar view.

Two thirds of Finns, or 67 %, consider it to be an unfair practice that good company results and good performance are of more benefit to company executives than they are to the workforce, through share option incentive schemes which significantly increase the earnings of those in management. Three quarters, or 76 %, are of the opinion that the employees should be awarded the same increases in earnings as are the executives. The SAK members are the most strongly critical of the share option schemes. The opinions recorded by this survey will no doubt increase the pressures of the next collective bargaining cycle.

The survey indicated that trust is still placed upon collective agreements. Among the interviewees 84 % believe that the terms and conditions of work, including wages and salaries, should be collectively negotiated and agreed upon for the reason that an individual employee cannot negotiate their own pay on an equal footing with the employer. The number of Finns who believe that the employee will be the loser, should pay and other terms of employment be agreed upon solely at the workplace, is 67%.

Four out of every five Finns, or 80 %, are of the opinion that it would not make sense to lower the rate of taxation if this in turn would mean a reduction in social security and a decline in public services. However, the number who support the idea of reducing taxes on wages and salaries and placing a greater emphasis on the taxation of property and capital, and on environmental taxes, is approaching the same figure, in this case 70 %. This is most strongly supported by both blue and white collar workers, the supporters of the left wing parties and those of the National Coalition Party. The members of MTK, the Central Organisation of Agricultural and Forestry Producers, along with the farmers, are against any change of taxation in that direction.

A majority of people think that competitive tendering in the public service sector is being taken too far if, as a result, there is a lowering of the pay level and the job security of the workforce. This was the opinion of 76 % of those interviewed. Just over one half, i.e. 53 %, regard competitive tendering for public services as being unnecessary.

Excerpt from SAK’s press release October 26th 1998