Helsinki (09.03.1998 - Juhani Artto) 2,400 paperworkers at Fletcher Challenge in British Columbia, Canada, have been on strike since mid-July 1997. Two unions are involved in the dispute: the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union (CEP) and the Pulp, Paper and Woodworkers Union of Canada (PPWU).

Phil Davies, editor of the PPWU local newsletter, has sent a message to Trade Union News from Finland asking for details of the collective agreement of the Finnish paper workers. He wants to compare the demands of Fletcher Challenge in British Columbia with the collective agreement in the Finnish forest industry.

"The company demands that all workers do whatever job they are assigned to, regardless of job description, trade guideline, or line of progression", Davies writes.

Helsinki (27.02.1998 - Juhani Artto). Workers at the Tamrock Mechanical Workshop in Tampere, 110 miles north of Helsinki, stayed away from work on Tuesday February 17. They called a strike to protest against the company's unilateral decision to extend the working week to Saturday.

Before the strike decision, the parties had negotiated about new work schedules unsuccessfully for some months. Originally the company had even planned to extend the working week to Sunday.

"Under our collective agreement, the employer has the right to arrange Saturday and Sunday work, but here the time was not right for making such changes in work schedules. Work schedule models function well only where all parties consider them to be meaningful", explains shop steward Tarmo Silander.

Helsinki (Peter J. Boldt - 26.02.1998) ... "The idea that the Finnish labour market is especially inflexible and that this is the reason for the high unemployment rate in Finland and elsewhere in the European Union continues stubbornly in common currency.

The OECD and its economic policy section have long been a centre for this mode of thinking. The "Jobs Study" of a few years ago reached the conclusion that the only way to reduce unemployment would be to repeal legislation and annul agreements made to protect the rights of employees. These theses have been repeated in the OECD's Economic Outlook every six months and have usually commanded wide media attention in Finland as well as in other countries."

... "In contrast the OECD's other publication, the annual Employment Outlook, has seldom been the subject of comment in the Finnish press. This may be due to the fact that it comes out in July when most Finns are on holiday.

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 (03.02.1998 - Juhani Artto) On average last year there were 45,000 more jobs for wage and salary earners than in 1996. The number of unemployed workers fell by 33,000.

The unemployment rate in 1997 was 14.5 per cent, compared with 15.8 per cent in 1996. The unemployment rate was 14.0 per cent for men and 15.0 per cent for women. There was a slight easing of serious youth unemployment. In 1997 the rate was 26.8 per cent, compared with 28.1 per cent in 1996.

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.