Helsinki (19.09.2019 - Heikki Jokinen) The plans for the next state budget seem to be a move in the right direction, but when it comes to the detail there are things that could be done better, say the three trade union confederations.

The results of PM Rinne’s Government planning session for the next state budget were published on 17 September.

SAK, the Central Organisation of Finnish Trade Unions hails the decision to cancel the infamous activation model that punishes unemployed job-seekers, and which was designed and implemented by the previous right-wing Government.

Helsinki (13.09.2019 - Heikki Jokinen) In 2016, the three-year national Competitiveness Pact added 24 extra annual unpaid working hours for a majority of Finnish wage and salary earners. This has not had any positive effects at all on working places, quite the opposite according to a survey conducted by SAK, the Central Organisation of Finnish Trade Unions.

A total of 84 per cent of those 894 SAK member unions' shop stewards and health and safety representatives who responded to the survey say the extension has had no effect on the hiring of new employees. But 16 per cent say that it has in fact been detrimental and lessened the number of new employees hired.

The national Competitiveness Pact was the brainchild and pet project of the then PM Juha Sipilä and his right-wing Government. It forced the unions to accept the extended working hours without pay. One of the Government’s motivations was to boost employment.

Helsinki (29.08.2019 - Heikki Jokinen) It is legal, under certain conditions and for a maximum of half a year, to limit an employee’s right to enter a new job in the same trade or start up their own business in the same business area of the former employer.

According to the trade unions this practice has been growing to a worrying extent.

Akava, the Confederation of Unions for Professional and Managerial Staff conducted a survey among its members in 2017. Some 33 per cent from the 2 119 who replied had a non-compete clause in their employment contracts. Four per cent had a separate non-compete agreement.

Helsinki (14.08.2019 - Heikki Jokinen) The negotiation round for the new collective agreements will begin in the next few weeks. One of the first of those to negotiate is the Industrial Union.

In 2016, the Finnish economy was not in good shape. Most of the unions agreed to - under heavy pressure from the right-wing Government - to add the 24 extra annual working hours without a pay in their collective agreements.

This was a part of the three-year national Competitiveness Pact. Now unions say this was an exceptional measure and it is time to return to normality, and abandon the extra hours. Employers associations for their part say that the change is permanent.