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07.02.2024 10:20

PAM announced a three-day political strike in trade logistics centres – ”The government is changing the rules of the game in favour of the employers”

Service Union United PAM has decided on a three-day long political strike in retail logistics centres. The strike affects approximately 10,000 employees. The government is changing the labour legislation and terms of employment permanently in favour of the employers, says PAM President Annika Rönni-Sällinen.

PAM’s Executive Committee decided on new political strikes as Orpo-Purra’s government has not heard the workers’ distress.

The government has already weakened the income security of part-time workers on low pay and the unemployed, and is further planning to change Finnish working life drastically by making it easier to dismiss workers, restricting the right to strike, and by making the first day of sick leave unpaid.

In addition, the government also wants to change the Finnish labour market model to be even more employer-friendly by expanding local bargaining to companies that do not belong to a employers’ association.

— As with the government’s cuts in social security, also in local bargaining, the workers who are already in the weakest position are hardest hit by the government’s proposed measures, says PAM’s President Annika Rönni-Sällinen.

Many young people and immigrants work in the service industry, working alone is commonplace, and the turnover is high.

—It makes you wonder who would agree on matters on behalf of others and how equitable it would be when the right to agree on weaker terms would now extend completely to companies outside the support and control of the unions and employers’ associations. It is indeed a strange idea that the government would know better than the social partners what kind of local agreement models work for different industries. The proposed changes may very well only deepen the division in the labour market, says Rönni-Sällinen.

The government’s plans do not enjoy the support of the citizens. According to a survey conducted by Verian (formerly TNS-Kantar) for PAM, 65 percent of the working-age population believe that employers have better opportunities to influence the end result when working conditions are agreed locally.

The government justifies its actions with economic and employment effects, but there is actually no scientific or other credible evidence of the employment effects of local bargaining.

—The balance of bargaining could be improved and the worst excesses mitigated if the preference of interpretation of local agreements was transferred to employees. That would be a true Swedish model, Rönni-Sällinen proposes.

Local bargaining refers to agreeing on the terms of the employment or changes to the terms of the employment at workplace level. Local agreements can always provide better terms for the employee than the law or the collective agreement, but weakening the terms can only be agreed locally if the law and the collective agreement allow it. The government wants to make it possible to agree on weaker terms even for companies that are not part of the employers’ association and without the workers being represented by a union representative trained for the task, even if the collective agreement requires it.

There are several significant risks in the proposed changes: First of all, employers who already treat their employees poorly would be given more opportunities to weaken the workers’ position. Secondly, in competitive domestic market sectors, the expansion of local bargaining tends to increase unfair competition between companies, which ultimately results in an outcome that is worse for everyone. In addition, companies’ incentives to organize weaken, which undermines the very foundation of a model based on universally binding collective agreements. As a whole, there may be less local bargaining, if the possibilities for local bargaining have to be reduced in collective agreements in order to prevent uncontrolled development.

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