Helsinki (30.04.1999 - Juhani Artto) In March the Finnish people elected a new Parliament for four years. As in previous assemblies, trade unions are well represented in the new Parliament.
Of the 200 MPs, 118 are members of various trade unions. Akava, the smallest central trade union organisation which organises academically qualified staff, now has 63 MPs. The largest central trade union organisation SAK has 36, ten of whom are members of the Municipal Workers' Union. Nineteen MPs are members of STTK trade unions.
Despite the large number of union members in Parliament, there is no crossbench trade union lobby in the chamber. The ranks of union member MPs are divided in ideological and political directions in the same way as Parliament itself.
Most visible "union lobbies" function within the parliamentary factions of the Social Democratic Party and the Leftist Alliance. Both of these have several MPs with an activist background in SAK unions. During the election campaign many received financial and other support from union organisations.
In the past, "the union activist wings" within the parliamentary factions of the Social Democratic Party and the Leftist Alliance have occasionally raised their voices to defend the rights of workers organised in SAK unions. The same is to be expected in the new Parliament. The MPs organised in Akava have rarely been union activists with the same level of enthusiasm.
Finland's social Democratic Prime Minister Paavo Lipponen is a member of a public sector employees' union affiliated to SAK.