Helsinki (05.10.2020 - Heikki Jokinen) The forest industry announced on 1 October that it will no longer participate in collective bargaining. The decision was prepared secretly and left both unions and the nation flabbergasted. The existing seven collective agreements are valid until they expire either at the beginning or during the year 2022. After that, every company or factory must make their own agreements.

This is a situation that is completely new in modern Finland. Unions have existed for more than one hundred years and in January 1940 - in the middle of the Winter War against the Soviet Union - employers accepted unions and the Confederation SAK as partners in collective bargaining.

But now, the Finnish Forest Industries Federation FFIF claims that collective agreements are too rigid and restrictive as individual companies are very different from each other. Therefore they want to speed up agreements at company and factory level. The solution is to close the door to the unions.

Helsinki (02.10.2020 - Heikki Jokinen) The new collective agreement for employees and supervisors within tourism, restaurant and leisure services was born under very special circumstances. The agreement was approved on 1 October and covers some 75 000 employees.

The coronavirus pandemic has left the hospitality sector in a dire economic situation. The number of customers has fallen off dramatically and there has been and will continue to be various restrictions on opening hours and seating arrangements in restaurants.

Collective bargaining for this branch should have taken place in the Spring, but due to the very uncertain future the agreement was extended until the end of September. Now, the Service Union United PAM has reached a deal with the employers' association Mara.

Helsinki (01.10.2020 - Heikki Jokinen) A crucial discussion on the role of the National Conciliator has been ongoing for some time in Finland. Now, the think tank Akava Works has published a comparative report on the machinery for conciliating collective bargaining in several countries.

Professor emeritus Niklas Bruun is the author of the report. He has compared conciliating institutions in the Nordic countries, Belgium, Estonia and Germany.

The goal of the report was not to propose or build a new conciliation model in Finland, Niklas Bruun says in the press release. However, during the study he began to think that the Finnish system needed an overhaul.

Helsinki (17.09.2020 - Heikki Jokinen) The Finnish system for temporary lay-offs turned out to be flexible in comparison to many other European systems during the coronavirus pandemic. But financially it is less generous than many others.

This is according to a comparative report on short-time (reduced hours) work schemes in six European countries, Austria, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and Sweden. The report is drafted by working life consultant Jyrki Raina, the former General Secretary of IndustriALL Global Union.

When the coronavirus crisis hit Finland, there was no need to establish a new scheme to facilitate short-time work. The existing scheme for temporary lay-offs is based on unemployment benefits from unemployment funds or from Kela, the Social Insurance Institution of Finland.

Helsinki (03.09.2020 - Heikki Jokinen) Three big unemployment funds have undertaken preparations to merge. If things go as planned, the new fund should start operating by the beginning of 2022.

The funds involved in the merger are the Public and Welfare Sectors’ Unemployment Fund (140,412 members at the end of 2019), the Unemployment Fund of Finnish Industrial Workers (139,172 members) and the Unemployment Fund of the Construction sector (45,590 members).

In total, the new fund will have some 326,000 members. Altogether 1.9 million Finns are members of unemployment funds.

Helsinki (02.09.2020 - Heikki Jokinen) Some 250 people sought advice from the Summer Job Helpline, run by the three Finnish trade union federations Akava, SAK and STTK.

Help is given to all who call or make contact; union membership is not necessary. Most of those seeking advice or help are young people, often students.

"Pay was the number one question," says Anni Ritari who ran the service from early May to 28 August. "People asked whether their pay is as it should be and whether they get all the allowances."

Helsinki (26.08.2020 - Heikki Jokinen) The Delegate Council meeting of the Central Organisation of Finnish Trade Unions SAK unanimously elected Jarkko Eloranta to continue as the President of the federation on August 25.

In his speech to the Delegate Council Eloranta voiced concern about the future of the Finnish labour market model which is based on negotiations and contracts.

He pointed out that the employers' federation EK has tried for many years to undermine the range of contracts between labour market parties, like discontinuing the national labour market pacts, terminating the labour market federations' joint agreements and now a determination to end the pay-related unemployment fund system.

Helsinki (26.08.2020 - Heikki Jokinen) The incumbent Akava President Sture Fjäder was re-elected for another four year term. He emerged successful in the Congress elections on 25 August with 578 votes against 292 votes for Maria Teikari.

Sture Fjäder (born 1958) has been the President of Akava, the Confederation of Unions for Professional and Managerial Staff since 2011. Akava is one of the three Finnish trade union federations. At the beginning of this year, Akava had 36 member unions totalling 608,811 members.

In his speech to the Congress Fjäder made particular mention of how the Finnish labour market system was working well during the exceptional time of this coronavirus crisis.

Helsinki (21.08.2020 - Heikki Jokinen) Finland will intensify its battle to prevent the exploitation of foreign labour. A working group from the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment published its proposal for new measures in this endeavour on 20 August. This received immediate support from the trade union movement.

The working group drafted 14 proposals for legislative measures, measures related to the guidance provided by the authorities, and measures designed to improve cooperation. There are also proposals for a more effective system of imposing sanctions on employers guilty of exploitation.

Further resources are to be made available to the authorities, also. Cooperation between the authorities is to be enhanced by improving the exchange of information and the use of surveillance and other data, the working group advises.

Helsinki (13.08.2020 - Heikki Jokinen) In June, a debate on earnings-related unemployment security got underway in Finland. Some right-wing politicians and the employers' federation EK proposed closing down the existing unemployment funds and starting up a new state institution to distribute benefits to everyone under uniform rules.

As things now stand, membership of any of the 24 wage and salary earners unemployment funds confers the right to a higher, earnings-related unemployment benefit.

All but one of these funds works in connection with the trade unions. However, a fund member need not necessarily be a union member and the funds are administered independently.

In August, the Board of the Central Organisation of Finnish Trade Unions SAK said it welcomes the discussion on earnings-related unemployment. Earlier this summer, however, the case being put forward by the employers federation and some politicians was perceived as being just and fair, but without defining precisely how this was to be carried out in practise.