People took part in a protest march in Helsinki on 1 May 2024. YLE has reported that the government looks set to walk back its plan to make wage increases contingent on those agreed on in export sectors. (Heikki Saukkomaa – Lehtikuva)

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THE MOOTED export industry-based system of wage formation is likely to be watered down, reports YLE.

The Finnish government has outlined its intention to prohibit the national conciliator and conciliation bodies appointed to resolve labour disputes from presenting settlement proposals that exceed the wage increases agreed on in export industries, which open the round of collective bargaining negotiations.

The plan has drawn protests especially from low-paid, female-dominated sectors of economy.

The Finnish public broadcasting company, however, has obtained information indicating that the draft put together by a tripartite task force does not contain as detailed and prohibitive provisions on conciliation. Consisting of representatives from the government, trade unions and employer organisations, the task force is expected to wrap up its work shortly.

YLE on Tuesday reported that the task force is proposing that conciliators take the national economy into account by taking a course of action that ensures that wage formation in other sectors functions as well as possible and does not jeopardise the functioning of labour markets.

Such a proposal, it wrote, would neither signal a meaningful change from the status quo, nor compel conciliators to adhere to deals in any particular industry.

In Finland, conciliators have for years diligently complied with the collective bargaining agreements reached in export industries. Businesses were therefore appalled by the proposal submitted two years ago by a conciliation body that would have guaranteed municipal sector employees higher wage increases than employees in export sectors for several years.

The draft currently under consideration states that the national conciliator or a national conciliator-appointed conciliator shall as chairperson of the conciliation body and that the body shall adhere to the same principles as the conciliator.

A conciliation body can be appointed to resolve a labour dispute if ordinary forms of conciliation have failed and the dispute is deemed to have societal importance.

The conciliation body appointed to resolve the dispute in the municipal sector in spring 2022 was appointed by then Minister of Employment Tuula Haatainen (SDP).

YLE on Tuesday pointed out that the government has recognised the difficulty of drafting a law that aligns closely with the provisions in the government programme. Some lawmakers have thus expressed their hope that an alternative approach will be found in bipartite talks between employer and employee representatives.

Also Uutissuomalainen has reported about the plan to tone down the export-based wage formation system.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT

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