JHL (25.08.206 - Heikki Jokinen) No additional cuts to public services within the next three years. This is the core of the greetings JHL is sending to the Government that is now preparing for the state budget for the year 2017.

The Government should desist from making further cuts in financing the public services, weakening services and worsening the situation of employees for the next three years, says JHL President Päivi Niemi-Laine. The cuts concerning holiday bonuses in the public sector had already been agreed on for the next three years.

Helsinki (Heikki Jokinen - 19.08.2016) Some 14 500 seasonal garden workers and wild berry pickers arrived in Finland this year from outside the European Union. This is the highest number ever.

Finnish legislation with respect to ‘everyman’s right’ gives a broad right for anyone to use the vast nature areas of the country with few restrictions. This legal concept which is accepted in the other Nordic countries too, applies also to private land.

The means that wild berries and mushrooms may be picked freely wherever everyman’s right applies. Picking and selling wild berries is also tax free.

For many years some 3 000 - 4 000 wild berry pickers have arrived in Finland every year, especially from Thailand. Their situation has been discussed a lot in recent years as the companies inviting pickers to Finland have left many unpaid or without proper accommodation.

Helsinki (05.08.2016 - Heikki Jokinen) Nokia has broken the law by paying salaries which were too low to Polish, Chinese and Indian employees in Finland. The Regional State Administrative Agency issued a warning to the company regarding the matter of wage discrimination.

According to the public broadcaster Yle, the Regional State Administrative Agency noticed that Nokia paid much less to their foreign employees than to Finnish employees.

The warning issued concerns 19 Polish, 36 Chinese and 40 Indian employees who were working at Nokia 2014 - 2015. According to Yle the foreign employees’ pay had been 50 - 75  per cent less than that for Finnish employees in similar jobs.

JHL (19.07.2016 - Heikki Jokinen) All public social welfare and health care services in Finland will be transferred from municipalities to the 18 soon to be established autonomous regions in line with the new draft legislation. More than 200,000 people will have a new employer by the beginning of 2019.

Reform of social welfare and health care services has been a long-debated issue in Finnish politics. At the end of June the centre-right Government presented their main policy objectives in a 600 page legislation package. But this is not all: more draft bills are to follow.

Drafting the legislation was a controversal issue for the Government. Prime Minister Sipilä’s Centre Party, which is strong outside the major cities, wish to establish a large number of regions with broad autonomy.

Another Government party, the National Coalition Party, was a keen advocate of the privatisation of public services and comprehensive participation of private service providers in public healthcare.

Helsinki (14.07.2016 - Heikki Jokinen) Finnish business and industry organisations have begun a comprehensive campaign against the generally binding nature of collective agreements. This struggle is supported by right wing politicians.

An important part of the Finnish labour market model are the generally binding collective agreements. This means that even employers who are not members of an employers' association must comply with a nationwide collective agreement that is considered representative of the field in which the company operates.

Companies that are organised in the employers' association naturally follow collective agreements signed by their association.

Helsinki (18.06.2016 - Heikki Jokinen) The goal of creating a new big trade union confederation in 2017 has failed. The unions involved in the process decided at a meeting at the beginning of June that the project would not continue.

The idea was to establish a new trade union confederation to replace the existing Finnish Confederation of Professionals STTK and Central Organization of Finnish Trade Unions SAK.

This would have made the trade union movement stronger. On the employer side the organisations are already united under one umbrella.

However, the broad and genuine enthusiasm for a new union confederation began to slowly fade away, for many reasons. Some STTK unions said they were not prepared to join the new confederation and some even transferred their affiliation to another confederation Akava, the Confederation of Unions for Professional and Managerial Staff in Finland.

Helsinki (14.06.2016 - Heikki Jokinen) The Competitiveness Pact was finally signed on the evening of 14 June. Most of the Finnish unions endorsed the Pact and it now covers 86.5 per cent of Finnish wage and salary earners.

The national labour market pact or the so called Competitiveness Pact has been perhaps the main issue in Finnish politics for more than a year. The Government was determined to cut costs for employers and forced trade unions to accept a deal that makes everyone work 24 hours more a year for the existing rates of pay.

The Pact also includes further weakening of established working arrangements and benefits, like slicing 30 per cent off the holiday bonus for those working in the public sector. There will be no pay rises for one year.

Had the unions not acceped the agreement that was reached in the negotiations the Government was prepared to push ahead with hard austerity measures.

Helsinki (09.06.2016 - Heikki Jokinen) People working in new forms of work tend to be undetectable when it comes to the trade union radar, says Jarkko Eloranta, the newly elected President of SAK, the Central Organization of Finnish Trade Unions. Unions must be able to identify these people and reach out to them. In short, get them on board and improve their situation, he stressed.

The Congress of SAK unanimously elected Eloranta as the 21st president of the 109 years old Confederation at its Congress in Tampere on June 7.

In his acceptance speech Eloranta said that one of the most important tasks of SAK will be to draft guidelines for new ways of working and to modify social security so as to make it more appropriate for new forms of labour.

JHL (08.06.2016 - Heikki Jokinen) Jarkko Eloranta was unanimously elected as the new President of SAK, the Central Organization of Finnish Trade Unions. And Päivi Niemi-Laine will replace him as the JHL President.

In his speech to the SAK Congress in the city of Tampere Eloranta stressed that Finnish society is based on the ability to make agreements, and provide public services, social security and education.

”Even small cracks in the basic structure might under pressure grow into gaping holes. In the event of that happening the consequences could prove to be unpredictable and serious”, Eloranta said.

Helsinki (27.05.2016 - Heikki Jokinen) These are the last days for negotiations on the new collective agreements under the umbrella of the national labour market pact. The dead-line on how to add 24 more annual working hours to some 300 collective agreements is June 1.

The national labour market pact or the so called competitiveness pact was agreed upon in February by the three trade union confederations and the employers' associations.

After the dead-line the Government will see whether the reformed collective agreements go far enough in cutting companies expenses and thus negate the need for proposed heavy austerity measures.