Helsinki (04.03.2021 - Heikki Jokinen) The question of so called local agreements seems now to be centre stage of the Finnish labour market debate. The problem is that it is not clear exactly what people mean when they speak about local agreements.

In general, the trade union side focuses on flexibility in issues like organising work shifts, fixing holidays, and introducing working hour accounts.

From the employers side, local agreements seem to mean the possibility to cut pay below collective agreements and make working hours longer than agreed. Also, an opportunity to sidetrack unions and shop stewards in this process would appear to be important.

Helsinki (12.02.2021 - Heikki Jokinen) The forest industry giant UPM announced on 8 February that it will no longer participate in negotiations on collective agreements for salaried employees at any level in Finland. This unilateral refusal to engage in collective bargaining is not just based on a whim.

UPM had obviously decided to prepare well in advance and with a big budget for the more aggressive labour market actions it now pursues. After the Finnish Forest Industries Federation pulled out of collective bargaining last October, UPM hired two experienced chiefs from the Federation labour market department.

The highly competent UPM labour market staff has without doubt analysed very well the risks and costs of this new move. One factor is who will have more resources at their disposal in the event of strikes or lockouts: UPM or the unions?

Helsinki (10.02.2021 - Heikki Jokinen) The Finnish multinational forest company UPM announced on 8 February that it will no longer engage in any kind of collective agreements at any level for salaried employees in Finland. All terms of work will be negotiated on an individual basis.

Jorma Malinen, President of Trade Union Pro, sees this as the beginning of a serious effort to destroy the whole Finnish culture of collective agreements, as well as a determined assault on our welfare state.

Trade Union Pro estimates that switching from collective agreements to fully individual terms of work would mean, annually, a pay-cut of thousands of euro for those covered by the existing salaried employees collective agreements.

Helsinki (03.02.2021 - Heikki Jokinen) In 2019, a total of 476 million euro was granted by way of tax credits for household expenses in Finland. Since 2001, taxpayers have been able to claim costs for the acquisition of household services such as cleaning, renovations at home or in the summer house and child care to gain tax credit deductions for these services.

At present, the price of work can be reduced by 40 per cent for tax purposes, up to a maximum amount of 2,250 euros per person. The rules and maximum amounts that one can deduct have been changing over the years, as the issue is politically charged. The maximum amount ever that was deductible has been 3,000 euro and maximum percentage 60.

The purpose of the tax break is to improve employment in the service sectors included in the scheme and reduce tax evasion.

However, a new study by the Labour Institute for Economic Research PT and the Institute for Economic Research VATT suggests that these household deductions fail to meet both objectives. The study by Jarkko Harju, Sami Jysmä, Aliisa Koivisto and Tuomas Kosonen is published by the Prime Minister's Office.