Helsinki (30.10.2019 - Heikki Jokinen) Several important collective agreements in the technology industry are nearing their expiry date at the end of October. Altogether these agreements cover 296,000 employees. In spite of the tight schedule no results are anywhere near in sight during this current round of collective bargaining.
As predicted, the most difficult question is the fate of the 24 unpaid annual extra working hours, forced on employees by the right-wing Government of PM Sipilä in 2016. The unions say this is something that must come to an end, while the employers are equally adamant that it should continue .
What makes the situation even more difficult is that the unpaid extra hours have been turned into practise in very different ways. In some cases these do not exist, or are used for well-being activities like voluntary motion. However, in many working places extra hours are firmly fixed in shift rosters.
Employers extremely hard demands
The negotiations between Trade Union Pro and the Federation of Finnish Technology Industries stopped altogether for several weeks due to the excessive list of demands presented by the employers. Now the negotiations have re-started.
President of Pro, Jorma Malinen said that he does not remember any time that the employers had hitherto presented as many demands and done so with such aggressiveness at the early stages of collective bargaining. Pro negotiates on behalf of salaried employees in the industry.
According to Pro, employers demanded, for example, to cement the 24 extra annual hours to a three working Saturdays in a year, make two national holidays working days, cut the holiday bonus to half, scrap the seniority allowance and cut several other allowances like the one for Sunday and overtime work and lower parental leave compensation.
The Industrial Union also negotiates with the Federation of Finnish Technology Industries right now. The process has been very slow, says Riku Aalto, the Union President. All major issues were still open last week.
Here, as in many other sectors, the negotiations have been stalled due to a disagreement over the 24 unpaid extra annual working hours.
Companies already got 6.6 billion Euro
The extended working hours were not the only benefit employers received thanks to the PM Sipilä Government. One part of the national Competitiveness Pact in 2016 was to move a part of the employee’s pension, unemployment insurance from employers to employees and cut employers social security contributions.
According to calculations by the Finnish Confederation of Professionals STTK this shift will benefit employers in 2017 - 2020 to the tune of 6.577 billion euro. Now it is the employees who pay much more, which in real terms means a pay cut.
This is a fact the employers associations tend to forget, STTK stresses.