Quit chewing on it
It’s better to address problems than just talking about them.
In a good municipality, service sector workers can live a good life. They have jobs, housing and leisure activities. Their children get day care, a good school and the chance to progress in their leisure activities.
When livelihoods face uncertainty and difficulties, this underlines the importance of social safety nets which, along with services, need to be genuinely accessible to all. Municipalities for their part must be able to help ensure that the money people have is enough to live on.
Municipalities exist for their residents. Municipal services must operate on people’s terms.
Municipalities are responsible for essential services. How schools and nurseries operate, how cultural, youth and library services are organised. They are responsible for land use and town planning and provide waste management and environmental services. Municipal policies can make a significant contribution to the living environment, to employment and to a thriving region in general.
Public services must be high-quality, effective and available to all. People are increasingly working variable working hours, and this is not a good fit with municipal office hours.
Municipal services don’t come from nowhere. They are decided by the people who get elected and are financed from tax revenue and service charges.
There are many improvements to make in municipalities and many things to put right in this world.
Much depends on who is elected to make the decisions and how they look after people’s welfare and keep the municipality and businesses thriving.
We all have a little bit of power in the municipal elections in April.
Everyone has the same amount of power in elections. If you are rich or poor, young or old, your vote counts just as much. You could say that the voice of the weakest is at its strongest in elections.
Too few people use the bit of power they get. Since you are given that power, you should use it. It is better to address problems than just talking about them.
So quit chewing on it – vote!
Press the red link on roll down
- Livelihood – municipal charges
- If you need scheduled day care
- Overall school day fosters equality
- Education that makes you grow
- If you have problems, social and healthcare services are at hand
- Housing costs down
- Improvements needed to public transport
- Dynamism in tourism
- Responsibility in procurement
Municipalities should take better account of the group of people who are left with the responsibility of running our 24/7 society. It is assumed that in order to earn their livelihoods employees are able to get to their workplace at short notice.
In return, society – municipalities – should make this as easy as possible. This should be reflected in the services municipalities provide – for example opening times, the location of services and planning public transport schedules.
Take-home pay is also affected by the amount of part-time working and insecure contracts. Often service sector employment means working part-time one year to the next in the hope of getting full-time work. Irregular and intermittent work make planning your life difficult and low working hours mean low pay.
Average earnings for low-paid service sector workers are around 68% of the average earnings of private sector employees. On average, full-time workers take home 1850 euros a month. For example, 45% of retail employees are part-time. For those on low earnings, everything counts, like the price of services.
Municipalities must make sure that the various charges they make are reasonable. When setting service prices, these should not prevent uptake of the services. Reforms of the law on customer charges for social and healthcare services come into force in July and will reduce many of the charges levied by municipalities. Public transport fares, charges for leisure and cultural services and, for example, room rents charged to associations matter for the way low-income groups can use services and participate.
If you need scheduled day care
Many municipalities are short of day care centres with opening hours to suit parents working at different times of day. This means changes are needed in pre-school education arrangements.
If parents have irregular working hours, it isn’t only a challenge for children of day care age. The same goes for primary school children, who might have to spend long hours alone if one or both parents work evenings or nights.
Having good pre-school education means that parents can go out to work without worrying about their children being looked after. Good, flexible pre-school education supports the objective of raising the employment rate. It helps parents maintain their employability if they can do even short stints at work. Pre-school education should be priced so that it isn’t a barrier to transitioning to the labour market.
Overall school day fosters equality
The strain of working life is bound to affect everyday life outside of work. Therefore municipalities must make sure that leisure activities, which promote people’s wellbeing, sense of community and personal relations, are available to all. If you work at irregular times it’s difficult not just for you, but also for your children, to participate in regular leisure activities.
Municipalities also set school holidays. In our view these decisions should also take account of the demands of working life and the fact that not everyone can take long holidays. That’s why free park meals, camps, day camps and other activities make life easier in the holidays for both children and parents, and should be a basic municipal service.
Education that makes you grow
Education enables people to develop, experience success and learn new things. Working life is changing all the time and continually requires more skills.
Service sector training is available at all educational levels, but the main responsibility for training lies with vocational schools and universities of applied sciences. These in turn are usually owned by municipalities and joint municipal authorities.
Many immigrants find their first job in service sectors and immigrants play a key role in providing many municipal services. Particular attention must be paid to treating them fairly and fully integrating them into working life.
Apprenticeships are another focus area and in-service training should be developed so that if you lose your job you can retrain and quickly return to working life.
If you have problems, social and healthcare services are at hand
Everyone must be guaranteed sufficient healthcare services. Reforms of social and healthcare services have failed many times because this principle has been upheld. Now the reform is set to go ahead. This is positive and important.
Employers are responsible for occupational healthcare. Statutory occupational healthcare does not include medical treatment, however, and service sector employees often only have statutory occupational healthcare. That’s why healthcare provided by the municipalities, and probably in future by the wellbeing services counties, is vitally important for them.
Municipalities must continue to provide employment opportunities, also for those with partial working ability, and pathways back to working life through occupational rehabilitation.
Problems need to be acted on at an early stage. Increasing numbers of working-age people are on sickness allowances due to mental health disorders. Mental health disorders have increased especially among the young and young adults.
Housing costs down
Municipalities can influence what sort of priority is given to the economy, business conditions, education or employment in their area. Whether a municipality is seen as offering an attractive living environment or has a reputation for an efficient and networked operating environment, is a key success factor for the municipality, bringing higher tax revenue growth and improved amenity for residents.
Everyone needs a home.
Housing costs are the biggest single expenditure item for many service sector workers. Housing costs usually take up over a third of take-home earnings. In the big cities and growth centres this can even be up to 60%. High housing costs mean that the number of wage earners on housing support is growing all the time.
There are many indications that the risks of in-work poverty are concentrated among service sector workers. Municipalities must ensure the availability of reasonably priced housing so that after housing costs everyone has money left over for other essentials.
Improvements needed to public transport
Efficient public transport is a precondition for the economy and business. Work journeys play a big role in combating climate change. Public transport also gives children and young people more freedom to go to their leisure activities, for example. It also increases equality between children in families doing irregular work and other children.
If it isn’t matched to people’s needs, public transport holds up work journeys and in the worst case prevents people from accepting work. That’s why public transport schedule planning should take better account of the needs of different commuters.
New and bold solutions are needed to improve public transport, so that various transport innovations both make everyday life easier and also in themselves create new services and jobs.
Dynamism in tourism
Promoting tourism is an important and partly neglected area of economic policy for municipalities. All in all, tourism is high value-added, labour-intensive activity. Tourism can involve adventure services, catering, retail sales etc. Supporting tourism is also worthwhile because it also has important knock-on effects on other sectors. One example is construction.
In order to develop, tourism requires investment and a long-term approach by municipalities since visibility, credibility and desirability cannot be created by one-off campaigns. To develop tourism, co-operation between operators, the region’s municipalities and tourism organisations is extremely important.
Responsibility in procurement
Municipalities do a lot of public procurement, including large-scale purchases of goods, services and construction. Municipalities must organise competitive tenders for the services that they do not provide themselves or together with other municipalities. Procurement can also include cleaning, catering services or caretaker services.
Well-managed procurement can improve the quality of services, save municipal residents’ money and improve employment. However, this all requires the will and skill to manage procurement well. Procurement shouldn’t just be a mechanical selection of the cheapest bid, it should systematically include quality criteria.
To provide quality service you need enough people and working hours. Municipalities must ensure that employees have proper working conditions and are covered by the relevant collective agreement. This should go without saying, but in practice it is not the case.
People who move to Finland from elsewhere often find their first job in service sectors, but unfortunately workers with an immigrant background at greater risk of abuse, wage dumping and other disadvantages. This also applies to work where the ultimate customers are municipalities –us taxpayers. This is unacceptable.
Responsibility and ethics must also be respected in goods procurement. All goods have people behind them and the production chain from the raw materials to the finished product always affects its environment somehow – either in Finland or elsewhere in the world.
Material from PAM regarding the municipal elections
Broschure (in Finnish)
See all materials in Finnish here.