News - 05.09.2013 klo 16.00

Unions are ready for collective bargaining on the basis of the national wage agreement

The fate of the national agreement on wages and salaries is now in the hands of union and employer organisations. They have until 25 October to bargain for new collective agreements within their branches.

The fate of the national agreement on wages and salaries is now in the hands of union and employer organisations. They have until 25 October to bargain for new collective agreements within their branches.

The trade union confederations agreed on 30 August with the employers' organisations on a national agreement on wages and salaries. If there are enough unions and branches willing to accept the national agreement, it will become valid in October.

Initial reactions and decisions from the various unions have been quite positive. The Wood and Allied Workers' Union has opted to begin negotiations without delay - a clear commitment to the central agreement. "It cannot be denied that the pay rises are small, but the employment aspect is very important to us, as the unemployment rate in our union is higher than the national average, at 14 per cent", says union chairperson Sakari Lepola.

"We expect negotiations with the employers to be matter-of-fact and have a good spirit of cooperation. We are not prepared to accept any proposals that are designed to put us in a weakened or disadvantaged position as part of our collective agreement."

The board of the Metalworkers' Union will propose to the union council that collective bargaining, on the basis of the national agreement, should go ahead. The collective agreements in question remain valid until the end of October and the actual negotiations are expected to begin next week.

The agreement includes both positive and negative sides  

The Executive Committee of the Trade Union for Public and Welfare Sectors (JHL) will go over the terms of the national agreement in the meantime and decide whether there is a solid basis to commence with their own collective bargaining. JHL representatives at the trade union confederation SAK executive board supported the national agreement.

The board of the Industrial Union (TEAM) have already decided to begin collective bargaining based on the national agreement. Pay rises are unreasonably small, but the planned changes to unemployment benefits are positive and fair, the board says.

The TEAM board also stressed that companies must act responsibly in their employment policy and seek to moderate fringe benefits for managers.

The Service Union United (PAM) is ready to engage in collective bargaining negotiations on the basis of the national agreement. They see the flat 20-euro rise in salaries as a positive move for those with small incomes.

Pertti Porokari, chairperson of the Union of Professional Engineers in Finland (UIL) accepts that the agreed pay rises means a reduction in purchasing power. But the agreement has several positive aspects that will help young, low-income people and those who have difficulties in finding employment.

He also reminds us that the latest framework agreement left around 70,000 experts and people in management outside or not covered by the arrangement. "It is now written into the agreement that the wage rises will also include those in branches outside collective agreements. This is a major step forward", Porokari says.

The Trade Union Pro board and council have given the thumbs up to the national agreement. Pro will negotiate on the basis of the agreement, but have made it clear that they will not accept any watering down of the text part in their collective agreements.

Read more:

A comprehensive national wage agreement brings very modest pay rises (01.09.2013)

The whole national Pact for Employment and Growth in English

Heikki Jokinen

Written by: SYSTEM