Juho Romakkaniemi, the CEO of Finland Chamber of Commerce, has expressed his frustration with the quality of debate around collective bargaining in Finland. (Roni Rekomaa – Lehtikuva)

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JUHO ROMAKKANIEMI, the CEO of Finland Chamber of Commerce, says he is saddened by the level of the ongoing public debate on collective bargaining agreements.

Finland Chamber of Commerce on Saturday presented its proposal for amending the employment contracts act in a way that, it believes, would take into consideration the best aspects of general applicability and local bargaining.

The general applicability of sector-specific collective bargaining agreements, it proposed, would continue to apply in the majority of circumstances, except when employees have agreed otherwise on a workplace basis, for example.

The proposal was shot down immediately by the Central Organisation of Finnish Trade Unions (SAK). Jarkko Eloranta, the chairperson at SAK, reminded that the general applicability of bargaining agreements is key for guaranteeing the minimum terms and conditions of employment for employees and viewed that the proposal makes sense neither for employees nor for employers.

Finland Chamber of Commerce, he slammed, is opening the door to competition to the bottom when it comes to terms and conditions of employment.

“The proposed amendment would make it possible to agree on an hourly wage of two euros, for example. What kind of wages and terms and conditions of employment would cleaners, warehouse workers and practical nurses negotiate for themselves if their employer is not part of an employer organisation and refuses to comply with the collective bargaining agreement?” asked Eloranta.

Romakkaniemi accused Eloranta of intimidation.

“You could only deviate from the collective bargaining agreement in circumstances where both the employee and employer feel it’s better. And when unemployment drops, the labour shortage would naturally drive up wages,” replied Romakkaniemi.

“The level of this debate is saddening. When you present a concrete proposal for how to improve our productivity, employment rate and well-being, it is shot down by 1) intimidating, 2) misinterpreting the proposal and 3) questioning the motives,” he bemoaned on Twitter on Sunday.

Romakkaniemi reminded that all stakeholders have recognised the need to raise the employment rate substantially in order to continue funding welfare services.

“You know how to say ‘no’ to the proposed measures, but you can’t make any alternative proposals. I hope the debate improves,” he said.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Source: Uusi Suomi

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