Local agreement requires expertise
At the Ifolor photo laboratory, local agreement is balanced and it benefits everyone. Head shop steward Tarja Kaunismäki and CFO, deputy CEO Leena Lamminen tell us what lies behind their success.
For many people, consultations mainly bring to mind bad news at the workplace and job losses. At the Ifolor photofinishing lab, however, they have a different meaning. Employer and employee representatives meet regularly to discuss the situation at the workplace and take things forward together.
“For us, consultations mean agreeing on good things too”, says operator and head shop steward Tarja Kaunismäki. She is also a member of PAM’s Council.
Regular consultations and an open culture of dialogue have also provided a basis for local agreement.
“For example, we recently agreed that employees can stay at home for 1-3 calendar days to look after a child aged under 12 who suddenly falls ill. In the collective agreement, the child’s age limit is two years less. This all started with a request from employees and I am really happy that we got an agreement on this”, Kaunismäki continues.
Ifolor’s CFO and deputy CEO (formerly CEO) Leena Lamminen thinks local agreement is an important means to make life at the workplace run smoothly.
“We want to improve local conditions and make them as good as possible for both sides. Whichever side the need for agreement comes from, we raise the matter and discuss it.”
Pioneers of local agreement
As well as photos, Ifolor’s plant in Kerava also produces photo albums and cards, calendars, photo canvases and a range of photo gifts. Photo finishing is a specialised field and demand is highly seasonal. The market is also constantly changing as technology progresses.
In the quietest periods there is only just enough work to fill the day, whereas there are three shifts operating in peak season in November and December. Other smaller seasonal peaks include Mothers’ Day and graduation days.
“With such variation in the workload, the need to agree on flexible working hours arises. That was the first thing we reached local agreement on in 2006. That agreement has since been updated over the years. You could say we are pioneers of local agreement!” Lamminen says.
Since then, Lamminen and Kaunismäki have concluded several agreements. For example, Ifolor employees have the right to exchange holiday bonuses for days off, and coffee breaks are longer than stated in the collective agreement.
Successful agreement requires expertise
Making local agreements is all about creating a situation where everyone benefits. In Lamminen’s opinion, successful agreement means each side being able to understand the other’s position and the business more generally.
“It’s important to have someone on the other side who understands things at the same level. Training is one way to get there”, Lamminen says.
Kaunismäki has built up her know-how in PAM’s shop steward training and on several courses. These have been on subjects including employment legislation and business finance and accounting.
“Local agreement requires a broad-based understanding that you can’t get without training. I am thankful that my employer has given me enough time off for training. There’s no way I’d be making these agreements without that knowledge”.
“Being a shop steward takes a solid skills base”, Lamminen adds.
"I think a local agreement is worthwhile alongside the collective agreement, as long as there is a skilled and trained shop steward to negotiate.”
Getting everyone's voice heard
At Ifolor, impartiality and fairness are key values that are also in evidence at the negotiating table. They make sure that all employee groups are represented there and everyone is listened to.
“Topics for local agreement can come from either side. If the justifications are good, the negotiations are good and in the end we work together to reach a good outcome.”
Kaunismäki and Lamminen both agree that local agreement will become more common in future.
“Markets and companies are so heterogeneous that one common agreement will never respond to all the challenges in different companies. Because of this it’s great that we have the possibility to make local agreements”, says Leena.
“In my opinion local agreements make sense alongside collective agreements as long as you can negotiate with a shop steward who has the skills and training”, Tarja adds.