Helsinki (20.12.2018 - Heikki Jokinen) Only 30 per cent of the unemployed have been able to meet the new criteria to get uncut unemployment benefit under the amended employment security legislation, according to a survey conducted among 6,000 members of unemployment funds run by the unions belonging to the Central Organisation of Finnish Trade Unions SAK.

The Finnish right-wing Government introduced, at the beginning of 2018, the so called activation model whereby an unemployed job-seeker forfeits 4.65 percent of his or her benefit if they are deemed to be less than active in their search for employment.

The job-seeker must either find employment for 18 hours in a three month period, receive entrepreneurial income of at least 241 euro or participate in a five day training course or be available for other services offered by the employment offices.

According to the survey, the main reasons for not meeting the new criteria are lack of work and employment services. Those over 55 years of age or those living in the countryside or in Northern Finland in particular experience major difficulties in finding any kind of job.

Helsinki (07.12.2018 - Heikki Jokinen) Labour costs in Finland were, on average, 34.2 Euro per hour in 2016, according to Statistics Finland in its Labour Cost Survey published in November 2018.

In the private sector the hourly costs for an employer were 34.7 Euro, in the local government sector 31.4 Euro and in the central government sector 40.8 Euro.

The costs varied within these sectors, too. In the private sector manufacturing industries had labour costs of 37.2 Euro per hour but in the service industry the figure was 33.9 Euro.

Helsinki (22.11.2018 - Heikki Jokinen) A trade union movement working party called Itset has published a list of goals to improve the situation of self-employed workers.

Finland will have parliamentary elections in April 2019. Many unions, NGO's and other interest groups are now drafting and publishing their wish-lists which they want to see included in the next Government Programme following the elections.

Itset is a working party composed of all three trade union confederations SAK, STTK and Akava, several of their member unions and the Union of Journalists in Finland.

Trade unions must be able to represent the self-employed in negotiations concerning pay and conditions - this is Itset’s fundamental and most important demand. European competition legislation provides no obstacle, the group believes, as in the case of Germany where the unions are in a position to make such deals on the basis of the Copyright Act.

Helsinki (11.11.2018 - Heikki Jokinen) The trade unions are ready to accept the tripartite proposal for an amendment to the Employment Contracts Act concerning the disputed dismissal paragraph. In practise the amendment will not change anything. Industrial action is over now, too.

The long struggle began when the right-wing Government tried to ease individual dismissal in companies with less than 20 employees. The unions were adamant that they would not accept any weakening of employment security.

Once strong resistance from the unions became clear the Government tried to salvage their proposal by setting the limit to 10 employees, but for the unions it was a question of principle, not a question of numbers. Government intransigence and their unwillingness to negotiate led to industrial action been taken by several unions in September and October.

Helsinki (29.10.2018 – Heikki Jokinen) The trade unions have interrupted their ongoing acts of industrial action to negotiate with the Finnish Government on their new proposal for labour market legislation.

The conflict between the right-wing Government and trade union movement had escalated steadily this autumn. The Unions have insisted all along that they do not accept the Government plan to ease individual dismissals in small companies.

In spite of this PM Sipilä was determined to press ahead with the legislation and showed extremely limited willingness to negotiate with the labour market organisations. This led to a growing number of incidents of industrial action by way of protest against the planned legislation, first with overtime and shift swap bans and then in October short strikes in several sectors.

Now the Government has backed off and proposed a set of measures to the trade unions on which to negotiate. The unions have responded by interrupting the ongoing and planned industrial action measures and said they are ready to negotiate.

Helsinki (16.10.2018 - Heikki Jokinen) PM Sipilä wants to undermine trade union movement resistance to the planned law allowing for easy dismissal in small companies by calling for a confidence vote in Parliament.

Parliament will debate the prime ministerial communique on Tuesday 16 October and hold a vote of confidence in the Government the following day. As PM Sipilä leads a majority Government, he is sure to win the vote.

Some observers view this highly unusual stratagem to avoid real negotiations with the trade unions as mere political play-acting. PM Sipilä explained the reason for his action by saying that after the confidence vote the unions would be protesting against a democratically elected Parliament, not the Government.

However, the bill is still under preparation and Parliament will not know what exactly is actually in it when voting on Wednesday. PM Sipilä furnished Parliament with a one page declaration saying that the objective of making dismissals easier is to improve the employment situation.

Helsinki (10.10.2018 - Heikki Jokinen) The dispute over Government efforts to make it easier to dismiss employees in small companies has not abated. Quite the contrary.

Trade unions are demanding an end to the preparations of the law amendment and are open to negotiations with the Government - which has shown no indication it is willing to negotiate.

SAK, the Central Organisation of Finnish Trade Unions held a meeting of 500 of its affiliated unions decision-makers in Helsinki on Friday 5 October.

Their message was clear: the Government must drop the amendment. The unions do not accept that employment security should be based on the size of the company.

Helsinki (08.10.2018 - Heikki Jokinen) More than 70 companies, trade unions and NGO's are campaigning for a Finnish law on mandatory human rights due diligence. The campaign called Ykkösketjuun is coordinated by the Finnish industry watchdog Finnwatch.

The new law, based on the UN Guiding principles on business and human rights, would oblige companies to map their human rights impacts and to prevent possible negative impacts.

Many companies in Finland already take serious note of the human rights impact of their businesses and Finnish human rights legislation is considered to be at a relatively high level.

However, these companies often work in countries where the state does not guarantee the implementation of internationally recognised human rights. The rights, for example, of children, employees and communities can be infringed on in the global supply chains.

Helsinki (03.10.2018 - Heikki Jokinen) The Union of Professional Engineers in Finland IL has added its weight to the campaign to defend employees against the planned legislation to ease individual dismissals.

The Union announced an overtime and shift swap ban and a ban on travel connected to work outside normal working hours from the midnight of Friday 5 October. The bans cover the technology and chemical industry and will remain in place until further notice.

Samu Salo, President of the Union says that IL is not joining the one day strike on 3 October but will decide possible next steps together with other unions.

"The Union can not just stand by and watch from the sidelines when the Government makes employment security weaker by unilateral dictate", Salo says in explaining the 70,000 member strong Union decision to take action.

Helsinki (01.10.2018 - Heikki Jokinen) Five unions are to stage a one day strike on Wednesday 3 October.

The one day strike, which is in effect a political strike, has been called in order to send a clear message to the Government: that their plans to make individual dismissal easier in companies employing less than 20 people are not acceptable.

"We would not have gone so far, but the stubbornness of the PM Juha Sipilä right-wing Government has left us with no choice", says Riku Aalto, President of the Industrial Union. PM Sipilä Government has more or less scrapped the tradition of trilateral preparations on labour issues.