The Confederation of Finnish Industries (EK) has announced that it will withdraw from central-level collective bargaining to enable its member associations to negotiate sector-specific collective agreements.
The member associations will continue to honour the current central-level agreements until their expiry, according to a press release from EK.
EK revised its internal rules in the first half of last year to prohibit itself from participating in central-level collective bargaining and signing agreements on a number of key labour market issues. It points out that the fact that some of the 22 central-level agreements have already been replaced with sector-specific agreements is proof that collective agreements are in need of revisions to reflect sector-specific needs.
Both the central administration and trade unions were notified of its decision in advance, according to the press release.
Service Union United (PAM) has nevertheless voiced its dismay with the decision, with its chairperson, Ann Selin, describing the decision as “an irresponsible attempt to erode the decision-making culture of Finland”.
Selin has also expressed her doubts about whether or not the decision has the support of all member associations of EK.
“Agreements between central organisations constitute a key component of the labour market system,” she argues in a press release. “Does EK really want to declare war in a situation where there is finally light at the end of the tunnel for the Finnish economy?”
PAM also reminds that the decision will also undermine the holiday wage agreement, the consultative negotiations agreement and the general agreement.
“Agreements between central organisations have been a platform to agree on consultative negotiations and the rights of shop stewards. It is impossible to imagine how trade unions would be able to agree on any efforts to increase local bargaining after these agreements have been scrapped,” warns Selin.
The central administration and employer organisations have both sought to promote local bargaining.
Selin estimates that the upcoming round of collective bargaining will consequently be extremely difficult, with union-specific interests being set to override common interests.
“EK's decision destroys any hope of the upcoming union-specific bargaining round being conciliatory. Every single union will begin the negotiations with their own objectives, including [objectives regarding] issues laid out in central-level agreements. EK's member associations will have to take responsibility for the decision in the negotiations,” she states.
Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Photo: Handout / PAM
Source: Uusi Suomi