Helsinki (19.01.2001 - Juhani Artto) In a recent statement the three Finnish central trade union organisations - SAK, STTK and Akava - express their support for European Union enlargement to the East, but their basically positive stance includes several important conditional remarks.
While the enhancement of EU decision-making structures has improved conditions for enlargement, this work was not completed at the ministerial meeting in Nice. The charter that was approved will play an important role in defining European values and principles and the three trade union organisations insist that it must be made legally binding.
As a follow-up to approval of the European Enterprise form, agreement must soon be reached on a Directive governing the right of employees to receive information and to be consulted at national level.
The eastward enlargement must have public support both in the Member States and in the candidate States. This will require open negotiations and effective public information channels.
The candidate States must meet the membership criteria both in their legislation and in practice. Especially in labour market and social policy aspects the candidate States have been slow to implement Community law.
Tripartite collective bargaining functions poorly in the labour markets of several candidate States, partly due to government attitudes. The EU must promote good labour market practice in accession negotiations.
The enlargement should not cause distortions in competition, encourage tax havens or lower the standard of social security and environmental protection. European Union competence and co-operation must be increased, especially in the establishment of a minimum taxation level.
SAK, STTK and Akava are in favour of transition periods preceding implementation of free movement of labour within the enlarged EU. However the organisations stress the need for flexibility in the regulations. Transition periods may even be shortened where necessary in the light of experience.
SAK, STTK and Akava support the implementation of similar transition periods governing the free movement of services, including subcontracting and leasing of labour.
The three central trade union organisations call attention to the fact that by continuing and developing present work permit practices the Member States may also receive labour from the new Member States during the transition periods. SAK, STTK and Akava stress the equality of foreign and Finnish workers in the labour market and call for the elimination of all forms of discrimination.