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JHL announces collective bargaining objectives: higher wage increases for low-wage sectors than for industry, and an end to the era of increased annual working hours under the Competitiveness Pact

The winter collective bargaining round must secure higher pay increases for low-wage sectors than those of export industries in order to close the wage gap. The era of unpaid working hours is over: JHL targets a return to the level of working hours preceding the Competitiveness Pact, or else fair compensation for working extra hours.

The Trade Union for the Public and Welfare Sectors (JHL) has published its objectives for the 2019–2020 collective bargaining negotiations. The purchasing power of professionals must be adjusted by wage increases that show as additional euros in their bank statements, the union demands.

“Low-wage sectors need higher pay increases than industrial sectors in order to close the wage gap. This is also a matter of equality. The majority of JHL’s members work in female-dominated sectors. They have accelerated Finland’s economic growth for years with moderate wage agreements. It’s time to raise their wages,” says JHL President Päivi Niemi-Laine.

The era of working without receiving compensation in the Finnish labour market is over. JHL demands that the 24-hour increase in working hours without additional compensation under the Competitiveness Pact be terminated this agreement period.

“Working hours must return to the pre-Competitiveness Pact level. If the increased working hours continue, employees must be paid fair compensation for them. The Competitiveness Pact in its current form must be buried,” stress JHL’s heads of bargaining, Kristian Karrasch and Mari Keturi.

JHL aims for a good collective bargaining outcome through transparent negotiations with employers. The union is, however, prepared to push the collective bargaining negotiations forward with industrial actions if no agreement is reached.

“Industrial actions are one means by which the union can secure a respectable wage level for its members. JHL always gives very thorough consideration to industrial actions and does not enter into such actions lightly,” says Niemi-Laine.

According to a recent survey by JHL, the method of industrial action favoured by its union members is broad strike action that includes union members from several sectors. Close to 8,000 JHL members responded to the survey.

In collective agreements, improvements must be made to employment conditions with respect to working hours, reconciling work and other aspects of life, and equality.

“The rules for variable working hours, or so-called zero-hour contracts, must be agreed on in collective bargaining agreements. These agreements continue to be used incorrectly, and employees are suffering as a result. The workplace must support employees when their life situation changes. For example, family leave must be developed, and studying while working should be made easier,” state Karrasch and Keturi.

The agreement objectives are based on two member surveys that compiled thousands of answers. Members feel that contracts must include the possibility of taking care leave if an employee’s parents are in need of care. In addition, the paid portion of paternity leave should be extended. More than 60 per cent of the respondents were in favour of care leave for employees to take care of their own parents, and more than 40 per cent supported longer paid paternity leave. Support for the collective bargaining of other unions was also widely backed.

JHL will begin collective bargaining already this autumn. The union’s largest collective agreements will expire mainly at the end of March 2020. The union’s largest agreement, the General Collective Agreement for Municipal Personnel (KVTES), will end at the same time. The railway sector’s agreement, for example, will expire already at the end of January 2020.

For further information, please contact:
Päivi Niemi-Laine, President of JHL, tel. 040 702 4772
Mari Keturi, Head of Bargaining (private sector agreements) 050 461 9315
Kristian Karrasch, Head of Bargaining (public sector agreements) 040 728 9046