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22.08.2023 15:04

Priorty Action Programme sets the course for PAM

The Programme that focuses on the state and future of the labour market helps the Union focus on the essential. Members now get to influence the program.

Kuva: Shutterstock

The PAM Union Congress in October will decide on an important document, the Priority Action Programme. It will set the course for PAM for the next four years.

“The Programme states what issues are important for PAM’s members. What the Union needs to focus on in future. The programme is based on a review of the forces that change the environment we are working in. You need to understand the present moment to plan for the future”, says PAM’s research manager Antti Veirto.

There’s a great deal of work that goes into drafting the Priority Action Programme: lots of research results, surveys to PAM members, and gathering of weak signals from the field.

Members report of increasing workload and scarcity

The programme is still in the works, but Veirto unveils some of the insights and plans that have been gathered so far.

“Tougher workloads, weaker incomes and general feelings of insecurity, and work communities that weaken. These are some of the weak signals that repeatedly surface in member surveys and contacts with PAM regional offices.

“The income insecurity does not come as a surprise, as we have recently seen a historically large increase in the cost of living. Low-income workers who try to manage on their wages without resorting to social assistance are most vulnerable. The cost-of-living crisis and bleak state of the world create a sense of insecurity”, Veirto points out.

The increasing workloads is a new issue in members experiences compared to earlier programmes. The labour shortage,  especially in the hotel and restaurant industry, explains at least partly the increased workload.

Stress at work is also increased by growing expectations that workers always be available. Work-related WhatsApp messages and group chats chime in more and more workers’ leisure time as well.

“Many say they notice that the sense of community has diminished in the workplaces. But on the other hand, some feel the work community has become more meaningful to them”, Veirto says.

Megatrends and political currents

Many of the signals from members reflect the larger society, that is PAM’s working environment.

Digitalisation is an all-encompassing mega trend. One expression of it is the work-related messages that reach into workers’ leisure. For many PAM members, digitalisation means continuous learning.

The diminished sense of community is also linked to a larger social phenomenon:  the increase in part-time and other atypical employment relationships. Last year the share of part-time employment of all employment relationships reached historic proportions. Atypical employment increases staff turnover at workplaces.

According to Veirto, a major factor affecting PAM and other trade unions is that their activities are called into question.

Petteri Orpo’s Government Programme is bitter lime for the trade union movement. For example, the Government intends to intervene in the right to strike and to weaken employees’ security in many ways.

Organising brings strength

In future, PAM will have to invest particularly into organising the labour force and the development of the collective bargaining system.

“It cannot be the case that at every round of negotiations people wonder how the terms and conditions of employment are agreed in Finland. The system needs stability, which has traditionally been Finland’s strength. On the other hand, the message must be conveyed that we can only take care of the working conditions of wage and salary earners with the force of organising,” Veirto points out.

Other key priorities for PAM’s future included in the draft programme are wellbeing at work and the status of immigrant workers. There are many PAM members who have moved to Finland from elsewhere.

“There is still plenty to do to ensure well-being at work. For example, there is a worryingly high risk of disability pension in many of our sectors.”

In September, PAM’s Executive Committee will discuss the priority action programme, which will be discussed, amended if needed, and approved by the Union Congress.

Text: Anu Vallinkoski