Helsinki (29.04.2016 - Heikki Jokinen) The much heralded formation of a new trade union confederation still remains elusive. A number of major unions say they are not going to join it.

By the end of 2014 a group of 22 Finnish trade unions entered into talks about establishing a new trade union confederation. This was supposed to start with a clean slate and it was hoped that most or even all trade unions would unite under the same roof.

JHL (20.04.2016 - Heikki Jokinen)  The Finnish Government wants to corporatize social welfare and health care services and make them subordinate to the market, says JHL Chief Executive Officer Päivi Niemi-Laine in the JHL blog.

It seems as if public service is some kind of blemish and private services something absolutely fabulous, she says.

”This view is wrong and shows that the Government has no understanding that most Finnish citizens pay tax, even gladly, to finance services for all. Public services belong to everyone and should not be handed over to the mercy of market forces.”

Helsinki (14.04.2016 - Heikki Jokinen) The Social Democrats kept their clear majority in the Metal Workers' Union gaining 62.3 per cent of the congress delegate votes. The populist right wing Finns Party lost their only delegate, after receiving a mere 0.1 per cent of the votes.

The 422 delegates to the 22nd congress of the Metalworkers’ Union were elected in the general elections from among its members. More than 57,000 members voted in this elections, 41.3 per cent of those eligible to vote.

The elections were almost totally dominated by the left wing parties. Besides the Social Democrats the other major group inside the Metal Workers' Union is the Left Alliance, which received 37.2 per cent of the votes.

Only one of the congress delegates came from other groupings and this was taken by the Centre Party who garnered 0.3 per cent of votes. In 1980's the Centre Party share of votes was higher - even as high as 4.2 per cent in the 1983 elections.

Helsinki (30.03.2016 - Heikki Jokinen) The collective bargaining system in Finland now comprises around 90 per cent of those who are in employment according to a new study published by the Ministry of Employment and the Economy. This figure has increased somewhat since the previous study findings in 2008.

The study by Lasse Ahtiainen focuses primarily on developments in the private sector. In 2008 73.9 per cent of employees were covered by collective agreements and in 2014 it was 75.5 per cent.

In the public sector the collective bargaining system covers 100 per cent of employees. This makes the total number of people who fall under collective bargaining agreements to 89.3 per cent of all wage and salary earners. In 2008 the figure was a bit lower, at 87.5 per cent.

JHL (30.03.2016 - Heikki Jokinen) A campaign called Raidepuolue (Rail Party) started in March with a public event at the Helsinki railway station. The goal of the campaign is to stimulate debate on Finnish rail transport and its future.

Behind the campaign are Railway Professionals JHL and the Locomotive Drivers Union VML. The time for the action is right now, as the Government is planning to open up domestic passenger rail transport to private competition.

This could mean an end to many local rail connections. Railway Professionals JHL fears that the whole future of Finnish rail transport could be under threat.

JHL (24.03.2016 - Heikki Jokinen) JHL will open negotiations on how to implement the national labour market pact, or the so called competitiveness pact, in their own collective agreements. JHL has over 100 collective agreements.

The background to the negotiations is the national market labour pact signed at the end of February. And the purpose of the pact is to boost the competitiveness of the Finnish economy by cutting labour costs.

The pact seeks to lengthen the annual working time by 24 hours for all workers without extra pay. Holiday pay for those working in the public sector will be reduced by 30 per cent for the next three years.

Helsinki (23.03.2016 - Heikki Jokinen) Negotiations towards new collective agreements are beginning to get off the ground just now in practically all branches.

The broad labour market pact, or the so called competitiveness pact, was drafted between employer's associations and trade union confederations at the end of February.

The trade unions have been busy deliberating over the pact and almost all of them have now agreed to open negotiations on their collective agreements in order to implement the changes agreed in the national pact.

Helsinki (17.03.2016 - Heikki Jokinen) Employers cannot stop potential strikes by demanding that district courts impose conditional fines on unions when the collective agreement is valid. The Supreme Court made this decision in the case of a planned strike at the national flag carrier Finnair.

In June 2012 Finnair salaried employees belonging to the Trade Union Pro and some other unions announced they were taking strike action due to planned personnel cuts and outsourcing. The company asked the Helsinki district court to ban the strike and impose a conditional fine of almost three million euro on the unions.

The district court accepted the application on the very same day without hearing the defendants.

In the event, the strike was called off but the case led to a juridical process lasting almost four years and went all the way to the Supreme Court.

Helsinki (29.02.2016 - Heikki Jokinen) The labour market organisations finally agreed on a broad labour market pact. It makes working hours a bit longer and will cut the income of employees.

Trade union confederations are, however, ready to swallow the pact as it might provide the stimulus for Finland to find a way out of its recent economic difficulties and improve employment prospects. One precondition for the pact becoming effective is that the Government abandon its plans to restrict freedom of bargaining by legislative measures.

The pact - which is called the competitiveness contract - is a result of a long and winding road. The centre-right Government of Prime Minister Sipilä announced in September 2015 of their plans to impose serious restrictions on collective bargaining rights, holidays and wages through dint of legislation.

Helsinki (25.02.2016 - Heikki Jokinen) The outline for a local bargaining model is right now under intense negotiation between labour market organisations.

The Finnish Government last week issued a statement saying that local bargaining will be ushered through primarily by collective bargaining and complemented by legislation.

Promoting local bargaining is one of the key points of the Government Programme. It would mean more flexibility at the working place level to change the terms and conditions of employment and how to organise work at the company level.