Annika Rönni-Sällinen, the chairperson of Service Union United (PAM), views that it would be unreasonable to remove the 24-hour increase in annual working time from some sectors but not from low-paid cleaners and shop cashiers. (Markku Ulander – Lehtikuva)

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ANNIKA RÖNNI-SÄLLINEN, the chairperson of Service Union United (PAM), believes a breakthrough in collective bargaining talks in export-oriented industries could break the deadlock in the labour market.

Rönni-Sällinen on Tuesday reminded that the circumstances in all sectors are unique but argued that it would be unreasonable to make low-paid cleaners and shop cashiers to work for an additional 24 hours a year without pay after the working-time increase was scrapped in other industries.

PAM on Monday issued a warning of a wave of strikes that would cover almost 50,000 employees in the service sector and, initially, hinder the operations of Inex Partners in Sipoo and Prisma across Finland. It pointed out that the strike is unlikely to shut down the operations entirely, as the sector has access to various types of labour.

The strike warning came as a disappointment to Annika Lavikkala, the director of labour market at Finnish Commerce Federation.

“We believe negotiations are the only route to solving the main bones of contention,” she said.

Collective bargaining negotiations in many sectors have hit an impasse due to disagreements over the scope of wage increases and fate of the 24-hour increase in annual working time, as well as the entire labour market system.

The Central Organisation of Finnish Trade Unions (SAK) has expressed its willingness to discuss and establish a completely new labour market system. The ongoing negotiations, it stressed, should reach the same conclusion as the negotiations wrapped up by the Industrial Union and Finnish Technology Industries in January.

The two labour market organisations settled on scrapping the working-time increase and raising wages by 3.2 per cent over a two-year period.

The Confederation of Finnish Industries (EK) has contrastively viewed that the working-time increase was adopted on a permanent basis and stressed that the current round of talks should be finalised before turning attention to re-inventing the process.

“It is clear that nearly all stakeholders will first have an internal discussion about how the talks went after this round of talks. And the discussion will also be had between labour market organisations, but only after this round has come to a conclusion,” said Jyri Häkämies, the director general at EK.

The focus of attention in the days to come will be on important export-oriented industries.

National Conciliator Vuokko Piekkala on Monday tweeted that Finnish Forest Industries and Paper Workers’ Union have yet to come to an agreement but are beginning to find common ground in the negotiations. The two parties will re-convene under the supervision of Piekkala on Thursday, 6 February.

Piekkala on Tuesday sit in on a meeting between the Industrial Union and Chemical Industry Federation of Finland. The talks are monitored closely because an agreement must be found well before the looming strikes in order to avoid substantial losses in the industry.

Both the Industrial Union and Trade Union Pro are to stage two-week strikes in the chemicals industry, but the strikes were postponed by two weeks by Minister of Employment Tuula Haatainen (SDP), until 10 February.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Source: Uusi Suomi

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