Akava, a leading trade union confederation in Finland, has welcomed the Finnish government's announcement on enhancing equality and non-discrimination but stresses the need for concrete legislative changes and funding decisions. While acknowledging the government's commitment to promoting equality, the union emphasizes the importance of action beyond just declarations.
Maria Löfgren, President of Akava, commended the government's move as a step in the right direction but stressed the need for more concrete measures and active communication. "While the recent announcement is an important step, it falls short without concrete actions and decisions," she said.
Löfgren urged members of parliament to actively engage in discussions related to the government's announcement and throughout the entire parliamentary term. Additionally, Akava expects that the preparation of further measures will involve labor market organizations.
Akava was consulted during the preparation of the government's announcement and provided specific recommendations for building an inclusive society. The union believes that there are discriminatory attitudes and structures in the workplace, labor market, and education that must be identified and eliminated.
"We are disappointed that our proposal to criminalize hate speech is not included in the government's actions, despite the increasing prevalence of hate speech and targeting. Furthermore, the announcement does not address the right of the Equality and Non-Discrimination Ombudsman to order compensation for discrimination victims, even though such targeted measures are needed to eradicate structural discrimination. In addition, the work to promote equality and gender equality is not adequately resourced," Löfgren emphasized.
Akava emphasizes that in a just society, legislation, practical actions, and the attitudes of decision-makers and individuals all play a crucial role in supporting equality and gender equity. The confederation calls for national and international legislation and agreements to support significant changes in attitudes.
"Finland is a signatory to key United Nations and Council of Europe human rights conventions and is, therefore, obligated to respect, protect, and fulfill all human rights equally and without discrimination. Racist, homophobic, sexist, or misogynistic behavior must come to an end in Finnish society," said Miika Sahamies, Chief Specialist at Akava.
The government's announcement is set to be discussed in the Finnish Parliament on September 6th. Akava, alongside other stakeholders, will continue to advocate for concrete measures and investments to foster a discrimination-free society and workplace.