Helsinki (04.11.2022 - Heikki Jokinen) Akava, one of the three Finnish trade union confederations, will elect a new President on 14 November. Both candidates have an equally good chance of claiming the prize.
The long time Akava President Sture Fjäder will step down prematurely and the Akava congress will elect his successor. There are just two candidates, lawyer Maria Löfgren and Master of Science in Technology Jari Jokinen.
Both work as executive directors in the Akava organisation, Löfgren in the Negotiation Organisation for Public Sector Professionals - JUKO and Jokinen in the Academic Engineers and Architects in Finland - TEK. Löfgren is politically independent, Jokinen is a member of the right-wing National Coalition Party - like the incumbent Akava President Sture Fjäder.
Akava, the Confederation of Unions for Professional and Managerial Staff, has 36 member unions which had a total of 614,788 members at the beginning of this year.
Member unions have been interviewing both candidates and the discussion around the Akava line has been broad. One of the main lines of division is, however, between unions working mainly in either the private or public sectors.
Akava has been growing in recent years, and this growth has been to a large extent coming from the public sector unions. The traditional Akava unions in the private technology and business sectors are no longer proportionally as strong as they used to be.
Politically, these private sector male-dominated unions tend also to be centre-right leaning. The public sector unions often have a larger number of female members and are either neutral or somewhat more centre-left. However, party politics is not playing a significant role in the elections.
Also, the number of unions led by women has been growing and thus changing Akava’s mental landscape.
Though the division between the private and public sector unions is one of the main issues in the elections, it is not the only one. Sture Fjäder has been a controversial leader in many ways, and Akava unions are now looking for a President who is more predictable in her or his politics and actions.
In October, Sture Fjäder caused more disquiet and even consternation, when he refused to take his unused leave before quitting Akava. The Akava Vice Presidents disagreed and after some toing and froing Fjäder agreed to use his leave in October.
In the congress, member unions have a total of 897 votes. The largest proportion of these, 170, are held by OAJ, the Trade Union of Education in Finland. OAJ has already announced it will support Löfgren.
The next biggest number of votes, 95, lie with Jokinen's own union, the Academic Engineers and Architects in Finland - TEK and the third-biggest union with 92 votes is the Union of Professional Engineers in Finland. Their votes will go to Jokinen, too.
Of the other major unions, the Union of Professional Social Workers, 52 votes, and Akava Special Branches, 53 votes, have decided to support Löfgren. The Finnish Business School Graduates, 57 votes, say they have reached a decision but will not reveal it publicly before the congress.
Akava President Sture Fjäder moves on to politics (26.08.2022)