News - 30.10.2013 klo 10.00

Union confederations sign the national wage agreement

All three trade union confederations Akava, SAK and STTK look on the new national agreement for wages and salaries positively given the present severe economic situation. The confederations signed the pact for employment and growth - as it is officially called - on Friday evening 25 October.

All three trade union confederations Akava, SAK and STTK look on the new national agreement for wages and salaries positively given the present severe economic situation. The confederations signed the pact for employment and growth - as it is officially called - on Friday evening 25 October.

Following that most unions and employers associations decided to join the pact; it covers some 93 per cent of the Finnish wage and salary earners. The main union to stay outside is the Finnish Construction Trade Union.

The agreement offers extremely moderate pay rises. All monthly salaries will be raised by a flat rate of 20 euros next year and a year later
salaries will rise by 0.4 per cent.

Three years time-out

Mikko Mäenpää, president of STTK sees the pact as a significant step forward in helping Finland get through difficult times. Finland got a
three years time-out, he claims.

”The trade union movement has always been committed to its responsibility for the success of Finland and now it has shown its responsibility by accepting very moderate pay rises that also underline joint solidarity.”

Mäenpää calls for a new Finnish labour market model. We should get rid of the recent style of yes-no discussion of having or not having a
central agreement in the labour market. ”We have to create a new Finnish labour market model that satisfies both parties and where the roles of the local, union and confederation level tasks are clear.”

The pact is a victory for Finland, according to the Akava board. Akava president Sture Fjäder stresses the responsibility shown by salary and wage earners.

”The historically moderate agreement offers a vitally important stimulus for employment and growth. It also shows that the labour market system makes it possible for the social partners to hammer out a deal and reach accord even when the situation is critical.”

Tens of thousands of professional and managerial staff are destined to stay outside the agreement, Fjäder says. ”Individual employers are carrying the responsibility for the terms of work for their employees in working places that are not covered by collective agreements. We ask them to show moral maturity in dealing with their employees”.

SAK president Lauri Lyly thanks the trade unions for their work in boosting the confidence of employees towards a brighter future. "It was
vital to approve this accord under current conditions where the primary goal is to create more jobs in Finland. A comprehensive agreement will help to improve the situation of job seekers and enable new government measures, such as a tax reform to boost individual purchasing power.”

Lyly sees it important that the agreement also establishes a firm foundation for pension negotiations.

Possibility of 20,000 new jobs


The Ministry of Finance estimates that this moderate agreement will have the effect of creating 20,000 more jobs in coming years. Director Seija Ilmakunnas of the Labour Institute for Economic Research doesn't see any reason to doubt this optimism.

Ilmakunnas believes that the new agreement will improve the competitiveness of Finnish industry. ”The ability to compete in terms of
price improves as pay rises stay below the countries we are competing with”, she says in an interview with the newspaper Kansan Uutiset.

The pact does not resolve all the problems confronting Finnish industry. The problem is structural, a too narrow assortment of export goods. ” It is important to remember the Finnish export industry is very vulnerable to disturbances in the international economy.”

New jobs can only come through the export industry. In the domestic market small pay rises may even have the opposite effect as purchasing power is not growing. Public services are labour intensive and very moderate pay rises will help the municipal economy, Ilmakunnas says.

Read also:
A hectic week of collective bargaining ahead (20.10.2013)

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

Heikki Jokinen

Written by: SYSTEM