Pirkko Mattila (BR), the Minister of Social Affairs and Health, reveals that she has launched an enquiry into the possibility of extending earnings-related unemployment security to all unemployed people in Finland.
The objective of the enquiry, she says, is to examine the current unemployment security system and identify possible development needs by the end of October.
“The question of should all unemployed be entitled to earnings-related unemployment security has arisen occasionally in discussions and studies. Now is a good time to look into the matter,” Mattila says in a press release from the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health.
A similar proposal was made last month by Sampo Terho, the chairperson of the Blue Reform. The proposal, however, was shot down immediately by trade unions and trade union confederations.
Kyösti Suokas, a deputy chairperson of the Finnish Construction Trade Union, interpreted the proposal as an attempt to abolish the current system of unemployment funds, which are run by trade unions, and transfer unemployment insurance to the Social Insurance Institution of Finland (Kela).
The proposal, he said, would also make non-members of unemployment funds entitled to earnings-related unemployment benefits while increasing the costs of neither employers nor wage earners.
“Terho will receive support for his proposal from those with the most right-wing views, who have always wanted to shut down the earnings-related unemployment security system and consequently undermine the position of trade unions,” he wrote in his blog on 26 February.
Mattila, on the other hand, views that the proposal warrants some consideration in light of the looming reform of the social security system.
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) urged the country to re-examine the scope of the earnings-related unemployment security system and harmonise the unemployment benefits of working-age people its latest economic survey of Finland.
Mattila views that extending earnings-related unemployment benefits to all unemployed who satisfy the criteria concerning previous employment would be a step in this direction. The unemployed in Finland are currently entitled to either the basic allowance, labour market subsidy or earnings-related unemployment benefits.
“I believe it is important that our system does not divide the unemployed into two camps,” says Mattila.
She also calls for a discussion on how basic social security could be developed in an inclusive, humane and sustainable direction, in way that the “support is determined based on the needs and life situation of people, rather than the minutiae of the support system”.
Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Photo: Martti Kainulainen – Lehtikuva
Source: Uusi Suomi