Chairpersons Markku Jalonen of Local and County Government Employers (KT), Maria Löfgren of Akava, Jarkko Eloranta of SAK and Antti Palola of STTK listened attentively as Prime Minister Petteri Orpo (NCP) briefed the media on the takeaways of his discussions with labour market organisations in Kesäranta, Helsinki, on Wednesday, 27 September 2023. Orpo announced the launch of a tripartite effort to reform the pension system to create cost savings of roughly one billion euros. (Markku Ulander – Lehtikuva)


THE GOVERNMENT of Prime Minister Petteri Orpo (NCP) is eager to reform the pension system to create around one billion euros in cost savings.

Orpo on Wednesday revealed at a press conference that the details of the reform will be discussed at tripartite meetings with employer and employee organisations, with the objective of finalising the reform in January 2025.

The one-billion-euro target for the reform aligns with both the projected need to raise pension contributions and what has been discussed by labour market organisations. “I believe the goal is realistic,” the premier said.

Helsingin Sanomat on Wednesday wrote that the target can be interpreted as a concession from the government, as an austerity programme that would have placed greater emphasis on pension system was discussed during the government formation negotiations. The newspaper reported at the time that the government was considering assigning labour market organisations to thrash out a reform that creates savings of two billion euros.

Trade union bosses declined to speculate on the details of the reform on Wednesday.

Jarkko Eloranta, the chairperson of the Central Organisation of Finnish Trade Unions (SAK), indicated that such speculation is premature given that trade unions had only been notified of the exact objective of the reform.

“But the pension system is pretty simple,” he added. “There are the benefits, contributions and working-age folk. Those will be the measures that we’ll discuss.”

“As well as investment returns,” added Antti Palola, the chairperson of the Finnish Confederation of Professionals (STTK).

“All measures are on the table,” summed up Maria Löfgren, the chairperson of the Confederation of Unions for Professional and Managerial Staff in Finland (Akava).

On Tuesday, SAK and STTK launched a series of protests against the labour market reforms and social security cuts outlined by the government.

Orpo on Wednesday sat down with the heads of labour market organisations yesterday as part of the first meeting of the Economic Council, a body facilitating co-operation on economic and social issues between the government, interest groups and the Bank of Finland. While he revealed that he wanted to gauge the mood of trade unions and promised that the dialogue would continue, he underlined that the government is not prepared to backtrack on its reforms.

“I think we have to be open to a discussion [about] the kind of proposals the organisations offer to develop working life in Finland,” he said when asked if the government could consider carrying out some of the reforms demanded by trade unions, such as increasing employee representation in corporate decision-making.

Minister of Employment Arto Satonen (NCP) similarly stated yesterday that the government is not willing to scrap its reforms unless trade unions present alternative solutions with a comparable impact on public finances.

“We can’t be making compromises when the goal is to create 100,000 jobs and someone makes an offer worth 5,000 jobs,” Satonen stated on YLE A-studio on Wednesday. “If someone presents measures of the same scope, of course we’d like to hear them out.”

Aleksi Teivainen – HT