Jarkko Eloranta, the chairperson of the Central Organisation of Finnish Trade Unions (SAK), suggests the upcoming round of collective bargaining talks could determine whether the employment rate can be raised to 75 per cent in Finland. (Vesa Moilanen – Lehtikuva)

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LABOUR MARKET ORGANISATIONS have shed light on the measures they believe will be necessary to raise the employment rate to 75 per cent ahead of their much-anticipated negotiations with the government of Prime Minister Antti Rinne (SDP).

Jyri Häkämies, the chief executive of the Confederation of Finnish Industries (EK), told Uusi Suomi on Monday that the objective is extremely important.

“It’ll determine whether the economic foundation of the government expands or collapses. But the objective is so important that the government can’t shun its responsibility, if no consensus on the necessary measures is found,” he underlined.

EK has called for both a reform of the unemployment security system and additional investments in education to, for example, create a light apprenticeship scheme directed at hard-to-employ people and young people without qualifications.

“We’re talking about vocational training that’s shorter than a degree,” clarified Häkämies. “The case sector is one example whether training wouldn’t mean a several-year degree.”

EK has also floated the idea of introducing a reimbursement for people moving for employment and a tax incentive for people who buy a second home in the municipality of their place of employment. Another key objective for it is promoting business growth and hiring by encouraging local bargaining in the upcoming round of collective bargaining negotiations.

“It’s an extremely important objective, especially if the economic situation becomes more challenging as seems to be the case right now. This is the only way that businesses can find tools to react to changes in circumstances. Any talk about national policy agreements is from a bygone era,” said Häkämies.

Jarkko Eloranta, the chairperson of the Central Organisation of Finnish Trade Unions (SAK), identified the upcoming collective bargaining negotiations as the most important tool for promoting employment in Finland.

“You can wreck tens of thousands of jobs or add thousands of jobs. That’s where labour market organisations have a special responsibility,” he told.

He underscored that even though the negotiations will be held separately in each sector, the unions should pursue some degree of co-ordination.

“We know that the employment target is challenging, and we know that other social policy and tax policy decisions have an impact on the labour market and vice versa. That’s why it’d be smart to agree on some common guidelines. But a lot will depend on the employers – on how much they can, are allowed to and want to talk,” said Eloranta.

He also estimated that the government programme has set some strict boundary conditions for reforming the labour markets by stating, for example, that social security must not be reduced.

SAK, he added, believes in the potency of “positive measures” rather than measures such as the activation model and the staggering of unemployment benefits.

“Questions related to the labour market mismatch are crucial, regardless of whether they’re related to geography, skills or wages. We have to be able to solve these, and that can’t be done by cutting social security,” Eloranta argued.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Source: Uusi Suomi