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Heikki Salmela, the founder and board chairman of Hesburger, believes every citizen has an important contribution to make to society.Heikki Salmela, the founder and board chairman of Hesburger, has responded to the controversy that erupted over his interview with YLE on 29 February.

Salmela estimated in the interview that the general applicability of collective agreements should be abolished and replaced with statutory minimum terms and conditions of employment, and that social security benefits have gnawed away at the work motivation of Finns.

He also proposed that weekly working hours be increased from 40 to 45.

“The interview has, as expected, stirred up negative thoughts in many, but I believe it would be wrong not to bring up the issue. The feedback I have received echoes the message that the difficulties are real. My opinions are based on my experiences from my half-a-century career as a business owner,” Salmela writes on his blog on Puheenvuoro.

“I did not join the debate to seek benefits for my own companies,” he stresses.

Salmela reminds that every single citizen has an important contribution to make to society.

“While people are terrified by the high unemployment rate, major domestic employers from labour-intensive sectors are between a rock and a hard place due to high staff costs,” he argues.

On the other hand, he adds, employees in Finland do not get to keep enough of their wages. “Wage hikes are used to pay for rents and living costs. Citizens are not the problem. We can create change only by revising the legislation and tearing down red tape,” he estimates.

“Education decisions are also key in the economic equation. We are the most highly educated people in the world whose most important export products are pulp and wood. Where does all the money and time we invest in long and expensive education programmes disappear to?” asks Salmela.

He believes practical work is the best way to become competent in most occupations.

Salmela also elaborated on his proposal to increase weekly working hours. “We should work more, up to 45 hours a week, for the same wage until the public debt has been brought under control. That way we could waive social benefit cuts and boost purchasing power. Sacrifices are naturally required, but if it is a question of rescuing our home country, I for one am prepared to make them,” he states.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Photo: Handout / Hesburger
Source: Uusi Suomi

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