Helsinki (16.06.2021 - Heikki Jokinen) From September 2021, Finland will have a new major collective agreement for the municipal sector social and health care workers. This agreement covers some 180,000 employees, more than 40 per cent of local authority employees.

Right now municipal sector social and health care workers are still part of the big General Collective Agreement for Municipal Personnel (KVTES). It covers a total of 421,000 employees.

Tehy - The Union of Health and Social Care Professionals in Finland and Super - the Finnish Union of Practical Nurses have been demanding for a long time their own collective agreement for municipal social and health care workers.

Helsinki (01.06.2021 - Heikki Jokinen) On June 13, Finland will vote in municipal elections. There are 309 municipalities in all. The latter wield considerable power - and money - to organise things like daycare, schools, traffic, public housing, cultural services, sport facilities and - until the upcoming administrative reform - health care, too.

The size of the municipal council depends on the number of inhabitants and varies between 13 and 85 seats. In total, voters will elect some 9,000 councilors. Before the actual election day there is advance voting between 26 May and 8 June in hundreds of locations.

Local elections are important for the trade unions, and especially important for the unions working in the public sector and municipal services. The decisions made in municipal councils can radically affect the terms of employment, for instance whether to outsource services or not.

Helsinki (11.05.2021 - Heikki Jokinen) The Central Organisation of Finnish Trade Unions SAK and Workers' Educational Association TSL will provide digital training skills to one thousand employees in the next two years. is supporting the project to the tune of 220,000 euro.

The Skillplus programme will focus on helping workers whose professions are undergoing high rates of change due to technology. These branches tend to be in industry, services, construction and transport. There is also training for those who’ve lost their jobs due to the corona pandemic.

Training sessions take from one to four days and are for 12 - 20 people. And it is free for employees and employers alike. The content depends on the needs of the participants. The first training pilot was held in April for Finnish Construction Trade Union members. SAK and TSL cooperate with the unions in organising the courses.

Helsinki (06.05.2021 - Heikki Jokinen) A total of 68 per cent of Finns agree that a strong trade union movement is a vitally important part of Finnish society, according to a survey commissioned by the newspaper Maaseudun Tulevaisuus.

This question was put to 1,054 Finns at the end of April. Those who agreed fully made up 31 per cent and those who partly agreed accounted for 37 per cent. Those who totally disagreed amounted to only eight per cent and those who partly disagreed 16 per cent.

Not surprisingly, 94 per cent of those voting for social democrats, saw a strong trade union movement as being important for the country. For those voting for Left Alliance the figure was 91 per cent and for Greens 86 per cent.

Helsinki (29.04.2021 - Heikki Jokinen) Targeting, harassment or cyberbullying are an unfortunate reality for many people due to their work. The problem is growing, and the unions are working to help victims both in a practical way and through political action.

Problems occur in many jobs: from supermarket cashier to police and journalists. In 2019, the Union of Journalists in Finland took an initiative to establish the Journalists’ Support Fund. It gives economic support for journalists who have been subjected to threats, persecution and other forms of harassment.

The media houses and employers associations do also support the fund. It works under the Foundation to Promote Journalistic Culture (Jokes), which is a foundation run by the Journalist Union to administer the journalists' collective authors' rights remunerations.

Helsinki (16.04.2021 - Heikki Jokinen) Forestry giant UPM has dismissed the salaried employees' shop steward at the Kaukas sawmill, according to the Trade Union Pro.

UPM labour market policy has reached the very depths of irresponsiblity, says Pro President Jorma Malinen. The Employment Contracts Act guarantees protection against shop steward dismissal, as well as the valid collective agreement.

"Prior to the sacking UPM Kaukas sawmill management insisted that there was nothing personal in the decision. Therefore, this can only be interpreted as a broad attempt to undermine the trade union movement", Malinen says.

Helsinki (26.03.2021 - Heikki Jokinen) The employers' association, the Technology Industries of Finland announced on 25 March that it will pull out of the national collective bargaining system. It has established a new association, which will henceforth handle all matters connected to collective bargaining.

According to the Technology Industries, its 1,600 member companies can then freely decide whether they want to join the national collective agreement, drafted by the new association, or make their own company level collective agreements.

However, the intention of this whole maneuver is pretty clear: to terminate the generally binding collective agreements in the technology industry.

Helsinki (25.03.2021 - Heikki Jokinen) One in four employers have unjustifiable sought to restrict employee and shop steward rights to express their views regarding their workplace.

This is the result of a survey, published by the Central Organisation of Finnish Trade Unions SAK in March. SAK collected replies from 825 of their member unions shop stewards and occupational safety and health representatives.

The most common ways to restrict employees’ freedom of speech are by banning commenting on matters concerning the workplace in social media and when giving interviews to the media.

Helsinki (12.03.2021 - Heikki Jokinen) Plans to create a major new unemployment fund are proceeding apace. However, one of the funds originally expected to be part of the merger pulled out but will now be replaced by another fund.

In Autumn 2020, the Public and Welfare Sectors’ Unemployment Fund, the Unemployment Fund of Finnish Industrial Workers and the Unemployment Fund of the Construction sector announced their plans to amalgamate.

In February, the funds engaged in the amalgamation plans said that the Public and Welfare Sectors’ Unemployment Fund is no longer involved in the merger plans. But there is now another fund that wishes to join, Finka. This is a fund that covers journalists and perfoming artists, like musicians, singers and actors.

Helsinki (04.03.2021 - Heikki Jokinen) The question of so called local agreements seems now to be centre stage of the Finnish labour market debate. The problem is that it is not clear exactly what people mean when they speak about local agreements.

In general, the trade union side focuses on flexibility in issues like organising work shifts, fixing holidays, and introducing working hour accounts.

From the employers side, local agreements seem to mean the possibility to cut pay below collective agreements and make working hours longer than agreed. Also, an opportunity to sidetrack unions and shop stewards in this process would appear to be important.