Arttu Korhonen encourages new candidates to enter this autumn’s shop steward elections
"It is possible to make an impact in working life also through other positions of trust. For example through local branch activities, which offers plenty of opportunities and anyone can join", says Arttu Korhonen. Photo: Paula Myöhänen
Shop stewards play a key role in improving awareness and skills surrounding employment issues, says Arttu Korhonen, regional shop steward for Avarn Security Oy in Eastern Finland. We asked him to list five important points about being a shop steward.
Key position. I think I have a central role in my work community. Employees are often shy about approaching the employer even with routine matters – and even more so when something is not right. I’ve tried to develop the interaction between the employer and the employees. The most important part of being a shop steward is trust, which I believe is earned by doing my best with every task that comes my way.
Injustice. Before entering the guarding sector, I spent about 15 years working in a variety of service industry jobs: as a cook, a waiter, a retail employee and wilderness guide. I got used to keeping a close eye on my hours and salaries to make sure everything was correct. The reason why I decided to pursue the position of a shop steward was my experience of injustice in the world of work and a desire to prevent it in the future.
Employment skills. When I’m training new employees as a shop steward, I do my best to tell them about employment issues and the collective agreement. I’ve noticed that even though education in the security sector provides a good amount of legal knowledge and the facts of working as a security guard, recent graduates often lack important information and skills regarding employment issues. For example, they may not know what kind of a salary they should be receiving.
Shop steward elections. Many companies already recognise the significance of the shop steward, and they are increasingly included in efforts to improve and develop working conditions and environments. I want to encourage new candidates to join this autumn’s shop steward elections. Nobody is fully ready for the position when they first get started. We are all learning all the time, and the position helps us grow and develop constantly. Rome wasn’t built in a day!
Fishing. It’s important to take care of your own wellbeing and resources in this demanding position. Personally, I unwind after work by fishing, being active and spending time with my children, who are in preschool and school. When I’m fishing, I forget about work and can enjoy being in the moment.
- Arttu Korhonen is regional shop steward for Eastern Finland in Avarn Security Oy.
- He is the chair of the security sector workers’ union Turva ry as well as the chair of the PAM’s guarding local branch 653 in South-Western Finland.
- He has been actively involved in trade unions since 1997, and has previously served in a wide variety of elected positions, including as the youth coordinator, solidarity coordinator and education coordinator of his local branch.
- Korhonen encourages all PAM members working in the guarding sector to help make a difference in the world of work also through their local branches.