A person at a unemployment service point. LEHTIKUVA


The Finnish government employer commenced historically significant layoff negotiations this Tuesday, aimed at transferring the workforce and enterprise services personnel to municipalities from the beginning of 2025.

Simultaneously, several employees will be transferred to different state agencies due to changes in work-service responsibilities.

Additionally, personnel transfers will occur among municipalities.

The nationwide cooperative negotiations, involving nearly 5,000 individuals, are being led by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment. Local, agency-specific negotiations will follow next spring.

The majority of employees switching employers hold expert, supervisory, and managerial positions. The negotiations representing them are conducted by the main shop stewards of the Federation of Professional and Managerial Staff (JUKO).

Minna Salminen, the negotiation manager from JUKO, emphasized the enormity of this change for both the employer and the personnel switching positions. Moreover, the change poses a significant challenge for citizens as municipalities take over employment and enterprise services that are currently administered by the state.

Salminen pointed out that if too many employment areas are formed, there might be an excessive fragmentation of the current efficient employment service model.

When preparing the legislation, JUKO highlighted the need for sufficiently large employment areas to ensure the realization of the goals set for the change, as well as the proper transfer of personnel and working conditions.

All local employment areas will not be determined until the end of February 2024.

Salminen noted that the change and the related uncertainty will persist for a long time, but the preparation time is limited.

"This poses a challenge for negotiators, but most importantly, for the personnel. We genuinely worry about whether those being transferred will seek other employment opportunities and whether their expertise can be successfully transferred to the municipal sector," said Salminen.

Therefore, JUKO hopes to see a vision of fair and secure transitioning to a new employer even in these national layoff negotiations. The negotiating organization also reminds that personnel should be involved in all aspects of the reform.

The government employed over 80,000 individuals last year. In March, Parliament approved the laws regarding the transfer of Employment and Economic Development Office (TE Office) services.

This massive upheaval involves a shift of employment and enterprise services personnel from state to municipal employment, where the workforce of the employment and economic development offices (TE Offices) as well as personnel responsible for the work of the Centres for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment (ELY Centres), and the Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment (KEHA Centre) will be transferred to municipalities or their joint cooperation areas starting from 2025.

Additionally, some of the personnel will change from one state agency to another within the government.

This transfer will also bring changes to the workforce of State Treasury's Palkeet, Valtori, the Finnish Immigration Service, and the Regional State Administrative Agencies (AVIs).

Currently, around 1,000 employees are involved in the municipal employment trial of employment services, and they will also be changing their employer and moving to new service areas.