Government to meet demands of trade union confederations

Sture Fjäder, the chairperson of Akava, spoke to members of the media as labour market confederations re-commenced their negotiations for a social contract on 28 January, 2016.

The Finnish Government decided on Wednesday that local bargaining will be promoted primarily within the scope of collective agreements and, if necessary, supported by legislative measures.

It stipulated that the system of local bargaining must guarantee that unionised and non-unionised employers are on a level playing field in terms of rights and obligations; that working times and wages, bonuses and other rewards can be agreed upon locally; and that a so-called hardship clause is drawn up to help businesses overcome extraordinary difficulties.

The decision was met with enthusiasm by a number of trade union confederations as it was widely interpreted as a sign that the Government is content not to take legislative action to promote local bargaining.

The Confederation of Unions for Professional and Managerial Staff in Finland (Akava) lauded what it estimated is a decision that calls attention to “the precedence of collective agreements” in local bargaining.

“It will now be possible to promote local bargaining in a way that works the best also in practice, at workplaces. A statutory model would have also hindered the current, best practices of local bargaining but would have provided no viable alternatives,” argued Sture Fjäder, the chairperson of Akava.

“The decision promotes the efforts to find a labour market settlement [and] can even expedite the negotiations,” he added.

“The collective agreement is the right medium for developing and discussing the contents of local bargaining. Local bargaining will remain an aspect of the negotiations dealing with the terms and conditions of employment,” stated Lauri Lyly, the president of the Central Organisation of Finnish Trade Unions (SAK).

The announcement was met with less enthusiasm by the National Coalition Party. Its main mouthpiece, Verkkouutiset, reported that the Government has given in to the demands of trade union confederations on local bargaining.

Juhana Vartiainen (NCP) dispelled the concerns emanating from the ranks of the party by reminding that legislative measures can be adopted if collective bargaining fails to achieve the desired results.

“The Government has offered the possibility to implement the decisions through collective agreements. If the results are insufficient, the legislation will be used to supplement,” he tweeted. “The Government will adopt supplementary legislative measures if the collective agreements fail to meet the objectives of the government programme.”

The Government also said it will evaluate the results of the collective bargaining negotiations with labour market confederations at the end of May to determine the nature of the legislative revisions required to establish common rules and, thereby, to guarantee the realisation of local bargaining and employee representation.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Photo: Markku Ulander – Lehtikuva
Source: Uusi Suomi