Helsinki (13.02.1998 - Juhani Artto) It took a week for the Greater Helsinki area bus, tram and underground drivers to prevail in their strike about their rights on privatised transport routes.

According to the new agreement, a company which is successful in bidding for routes will be obliged to hire workers sacked by the company which lost the route if the successful company needs more drivers.

In such cases the driver will hired as an established employee retaining almost all accumulated social benefits. This rule will apply to the pay scale, the length of annual leave, the level of compensation for sick leave and the terms of dismissal.

Helsinki (06.02.1998 - Juhani Artto) About 3,300 bus, tram and underground train drivers launched a strike in the Greater Helsinki area on Monday. The dispute concerns the rights of drivers working on privatized transport routes.

A few years ago the Metropolitan Area local authorities called for tenders from private transport companies for the right to operate services on certain bus routes. This year the City of Helsinki is adopting the practice of its neighbours and on some routes a second round of tendering between the bus companies is already under way.

The drivers are opposed to the idea of their employers, whereby companies which are successful in bidding for routes may hire drivers without respecting their accumulated service benefits. This approach by the employers threatens to reduce the incomes, social benefits and job security of the workforce.

Helsinki (30.01.1998 - Juhani Artto) The Labour Court has ordered the Paperworkers Union and 53 of its 73 local branches to pay heavy fines for strikes which took place last September. The fines amount to 633,000 Finnish marks (1 FIM = 0,19 USD).

The paperworkers called a series of strikes in support of 54 maintenance workers at the tissue paper mill of Nokia Paper Oy, which is owned by the U.S.-based multinational James Fort. (See our story "Subcontracting - a hot issue" published 10.10.1997). The workers insisted on working under the collective agreement applicable to the paper industry, instead of that of the metalworking sector to which, as a result of outsourcing, their employer ABB Service belongs.

Helsinki (19.01.1998 - Juhani Artto) The CEOs of the largest Finnish companies enjoyed generous salary rises amounting to 44 per cent between 1990 and 1996. Over the same period the gross income of ordinary full-time wage earners and salaried staff grew by 21 per cent.

These figures are from a report compiled by journalists Tuomo Pietiläinen and Erja Sumanen of the leading Finnish daily newspaper Helsingin Sanomat and published in the edition of 4th November 1997.

The study compares the job-related incomes of CEOs in the 14 largest Finnish companies listed on the Stock Market. As job-related income the journalists included salaries, income from option loans given to managers and remuneration from directorships of other companies.

The fattest pay packet went to Jorma Ollila, CEO of the telecommunications multinational Nokia. His income in 1996 was 3.3 million Finnish marks (1 FIM = 0.19 USD). He was closely followed by Vesa Vainio, head of Finland's largest commercial bank Merita, with an annual income of 3.1 million marks. (Merita was formed in 1995 of SYP and KOP. The general director of SYP made 1.1 million marks in 1990.)

Helsinki (12.01.1998 - Juhani Artto) Almost a third of Finnish working people believe that their work causes them physical or mental damage. The conclusion comes from a new study on how Finns assess their own working conditions.

In the study, made by the Institute of Occupational Health, 3,200 Finnish speaking people aged from 25 to 64 years responded to a thorough questionnaire. Those interviewed were selected at random from the population register.

A majority experience haste at work rather or very often. In a similar study dating from 1994/95 the proportion of such respondents was 58 per cent. In 1997 this figure was a little lower at 52 per cent. Those who feel mildly or badly stressed at work represent 14 per cent, which is 3 per cent fewer than three years earlier. Women are slightly more stressed than men.

Helsinki (05.01.1998 - Juhani Artto) Those employed for less than one month will earn increased pension rights from 1.1.1998. This is due to a law that took effect at the beginning of the year. Up to the end of last year private employers were obliged to contribute to pension funds only where employment lasted longer than one month.

The new regulation does not, however, apply to employees under 23 years of age, nor to those earning less than FIM 3,650 per year (FIM 1.00 = USD 0.19).

The reform is a result of pressure exerted by the trade unions.

Employers began to favour short period employment during the slump in the Finnish economy in the early 1990s. Some of them deliberately reduced their social contributions by artificially dividing employment into short periods.

Helsinki (19.12.1997 - Juhani Artto) Complex negotiations throughout the autumn concluded in mid-December in a comprehensive incomes policy agreement to last until 15 January 2000.

The agreement covers 1.3 million employees in Finland. The framework agreement reached by leaders of labour market organisations was rejected only by the representatives of 27,000 employees.

Monthly salaries will rise in both years by FIM 142 (1 USD = FIM 5.35), representing an increase of FIM 0.85 per hour or at least 1.6 per cent. The agreement also includes a 0.5 per cent increase for special arrangements and an additional 0.4 per cent increase for low-pay sectors and for those with a predominantly female workforce.

Helsinki (05.12.1997 - Juhani Artto) According to a new study, exhaustion at work in Finland is more common than believed and probably worse than in Sweden and the Netherlands.

Made by the Institute of Occupational Health, the study is based on interviews with 3,300 Finns aged 24-65 years.

The proportion of those feeling seriously exhausted varied from 2.6 per cent in the construction industry to more than ten per cent in jobs at restaurants, hotels, schools and research institutes. Work in agriculture and forestry also rated an above average share of serious or slight exhaustion.

The study defines work exhaustion as a disorder caused by long-lasting, serious stress. The symptoms are permanent fatigue, cynicism, weak vocational identity and physical and mental functional disorders.

A majority of those interviewed suffered from some form of work exhaustion.

Raija Kalimo, who conducted the study, says that a short-sighted, one-sided striving for profits may become expensive for employers, as it lowers work efficiency and increases working days lost due to illness.

Helsinki (07.11.1997 - Juhani Artto) SAK wants a consultative body to serve in Europe's central bank with representatives from the trade unions and employer organisations. The body would help in the exchange of information and provide a forum for discussions of employment, price stability and social development in the Member States.

SAK has approached the Finnish government asking it to promote the idea in European negotiations taking place in November at the employment summit conference in Luxemburg.

Helsinki (24.10.1997 - Juhani Artto) The retirement age in the private sector fell throughout the 1980s even though there were no major reforms in that direction. This was due to a growing number of employees choosing or being forced into early retirement. The background to this lay not only in increasing health problems but also in employer policies of smooth reductions in the size of the workforce.

Trade union organisations often agreed to these early retirement schemes when the alternative was to make long serving workers redundant.

Now the trend has has been reversed. At the end of last year the average age of retirement was about 59 years. The figure is based on the retirement age of all present pensioners. At the end of the 1980s the figure reached its all-time lowest level 58,5 years.