Helsinki (20.04.2017 - Heikki Jokinen) A large number of trade union activists and rank and file members were once again elected onto the municipal councils in the Finnish local elections.

The right wing populist Finns Party suffered serious losses in the elections, garnering just 8.8 per cent of the votes cast - a dramatic fall off in support from the parliamentary elections in 2015, when the party got an amazing 17.7 per cent of the votes.

A clear signal, perhaps, that the nationalist populist, anti-EU and anti-immigration platform  is beginning to lose its appeal. The Finns Party business-orientated policy in Government has also been quite the opposite to their election slogans that promised to support working people.

JHL (05.04.2017 - Heikki Jokinen) Planned regional reform does not mean municipalities will disappear, says Minna Salminen, JHL Special Adviser of Public Affairs.

Municipalities and the regions will have very close co-operation in the future, in particular with regard to social and health care services, but also in areas like the emergency service.

The Trade Union for the Public and Welfare Sectors JHL organise professionals and students of welfare services in municipalities, the state and the private sector.

Finland is facing a new administrative situation, should the planned regional reform be passed by Parliament. All public social welfare and health care services will be transferred from municipalities to the 18 autonomous regions by the beginning of 2019.

Helsinki (31.3.2017 - Heikki Jokinen) The Social Democrats gained two new seats in the Union Council elections of the Trade Union for the Public and Welfare Sectors JHL. The Left Alliance for their part lost two seats on the Council.

The 120 member strong JHL Union Council is elected by direct ballot every fifth year. The Social Democrats won 87 seats - two more than now - and the Left Alliance got 33 seats, two less than they have now.

The Council is the supreme policy making body of JHL. It also decides on union strategy, plan of action, budget, membership dues and approval of national collective agreements. The Council sits for a five year term.

The share of votes for the Social Democrats was 69.29 per cent and for the Left Alliance 29.72. Both lists had a slightly bigger share of votes than in the previous elections in 2012.

Helsinki (21.03.2017 - Heikki Jokinen) "From our point of view it is only provisional", this arrangement whereby unions are involved in negotiating collective agreements, says Veli-Matti Mattila, Chairperson of the Confederation of Finnish Industries EK in an interview with the newspaper Helsingin Sanomat.

In the longer run it would be for the best if all terms of work were agreed individually at company level between employer and employee, is how Mattila sums up his vision for the future.

Mattila’s statement comes fast on the heels of the employers' EK recent announcement that it will do no longer enter into agreements with the trade union confederations. It has also pulled out of the 22 existing confederation level agreements.

Just when Finnish unions are preparing for union level collective bargaining later this year, Mattila reveals his vision that the employers would like to get rid of unions altogether.

JHL (17.03.2017 - Heikki Jokinen) Päivi Niemi-Laine is willing to continue as JHL President. A group of JHL activists asked her to put herself forward as a candidate and she responded affirmatively.

The activists who asked Niemi-Laine to stay on greatly appreciate her, especially for her work in revitalising the work of the union, engagement in societal affairs and her courage to act even when faced with difficult issues.

The election will take place at the JHL Union Council meeting in Helsinki 5.–7.6.2017. The direct member ballot for the 120 members of the Council is taking place throughout March. The results will be announced on March 30.

Helsinki (02.03.2017 - Heikki Jokinen) The Confederation of Finnish Industries EK is terminating all 22 confederation level national agreements it still has with the trade union confederations.

EK announced unilaterally that it will not conduct any further national level labour market agreements. All future agreements will we be made at union or company level, EK has decided.

EK had earlier pulled out of confederation level national tripartite labour market pacts.

The 22 agreements to be jettisoned cover several practical issues like collecting trade union fees, provisions on employee training and the rights of shop stewards.

JHL (28.02.2017 - Heikki Jokinen) Finnish legislation stipulates that municipalities have the responsibility to provide personal assistance for seriously disabled people.

There are between 25,000 - 30,000 personal assistants currently employed in Finland. The trade union density for this labour sector is exceptionally low for Finland, around 20 per cent. JHL, the Trade Union for the Public and Welfare Sectors counts about 2,000 personal assistants who are members of the union.

JHL has now launched a project to address the challenges and wishes expressed by personal assistants themselves in surveys.

JHL (24.02.2017 - Heikki Jokinen) Even though health and social services are to be handed over to the new regional bodies municipalities will continue to play a major role in promoting citizens' wellbeing and health, says Marjo Katajisto, a Special Adviser with JHL, the Trade Union for the Public and Welfare Sectors.

All public social welfare and health care services in Finland will be transferred from municipalities to the 18 autonomous regions at the beginning of 2019.

Wellbeing and health is achieved, among other things, through education, city and traffic planning, youth services and sports, food and culture services, Katajisto says.

Helsinki (16.02.2017 - Heikki Jokinen) The Act on Co-operation within Undertakings must be reformed completely, insists the Finnish Confederation of Professionals STTK. The existing law is not working as it was set out to do, in seeking to strengthen co-operation between employer and employees at the workplace.

The Act says its goal is to "promote the undertakings and its personnel’s interactive co-operation procedures" and to "collectively develop operations of an undertaking and the employees’ opportunities to exercise influence in the decisions made within the undertaking relating to their work, their working conditions and their position in the undertaking".

The purpose of the law is also to "improve the position of the employees and to support their employment in relation to changes in the operations of the undertaking".

Helsinki (08.02.2017 - Heikki Jokinen) Working life is changing and unions must find new ways to work and offer added value to their members. The Union of Journalists in Finland has started up a cooperative for journalistic and other kinds of media work.

A growing part of journalistic work is done on a freelance basis, outside collective agreements. The Union of Journalists in Finland organises freelancers offering many services like legal help, professional career advice and comprehensive education and training.

But many self-employed union members are none too happy with the bureaucracy and demands involved in being an entrepreneur and are looking for other ways to organise their work. Now the Union has come up with a possible answer to that: a cooperative for union members engaged in freelance work.