PAM’s Selin: Europe needs to join a path towards collective bargaining
Representanter för 43 miljoner anställda har samlats till Europeiska fackliga samarbetsorganisationens kongress i Paris (foto: etuc.org)
The Congress of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) gathered representatives of 43 million workers together in Paris last week. In attendance were delegates from the Central Organization of Finnish Trade Unions (SAK), the Finnish Confederation of Salaried Employees (STTK) and the Confederation of Unions for Professional and Managerial Staff in Finland (Akava). The situation in Finland was addressed by several speakers.
Ann Selin, President of Service Union United PAM and UNI Global Union, attended as one of six SAK delegates. In her address, Selin explained how Finnish trade unions had started receiving messages of solidarity from developing countries a couple of weeks ago. These came from Paraguay, Nepal, Indonesia, Ghana, Columbia and several other countries.
‘Finland, a Nordic welfare state, had previously supported these countries and told them about its strong labour market legislation and trade union rights. All of a sudden, due to the Government’s plans, Finland has become a country in need of support.’
Finland is not the only country to go through something like this. According to Selin, it is more of a mainstream tendency for governments in different countries to aim to undermine trade unions, pleading economic necessity.
Selin also spoke about the influx of new members into trade unions as a result of the Finnish Government’s plans. For instance, the number of new members that recently joined PAM over a period of a couple of weeks was four times the usual figure for a corresponding period.
‘I feel that trade unions, workers and Europeans in general have gained plenty of new energy. People have a strong urge to belong to something and to stand up for their rights.’
Accordingly, Selin wishes that Europe could be brought along a fair and sustainable path where trade unions play a strong role and people engage in collective bargaining.
Finland’s situation also came up in other contributions. Guy Ryder, Director-General of the International Labour Organization (ILO), revealed during his visit to Finland about a year ago that he was a big fan of the Finnish culture of negotiation. Now he feels slightly let down, as his address emphasized the right to bargain collectively. Bernadette Ségol, the outgoing ETUC Director-General, also mentioned the demonstration organized by Finnish employees and asked Congress participants to give a round of applause in support of the Finnish trade union movement.
The 13th ETUC Congress started on Tuesday, 29 September, and ended on Friday, 2 October.