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Pay rise remains unresolved, industry strikes to follow

The Industrial Union has announced a strike from 9 to 11 December. It will cover 35,000 employees from the technology, chemical, wood product and special branches sectors.

Negotiations for a new collective agreement for technology industry faltered on the question of pay rises. Other issues in the agreement are more or less agreed upon.

Even the hard question of the 24 unpaid annual extra working hours, forced on employees by the right-wing Government of PM Sipilä in 2016, is now resolved. These hours will disappear in the technology sector agreement.

The National Conciliator made a proposal in respect of a pay rise, 1.6 per cent as part of a two years agreement.

“Unfortunately, the pay rise in the proposal does not correspond at all to the level we have been seeking in these negotiations”, says Riku Aalto, President of the Industrial Union.

For the first year the proposal would mean a 0.5 per cent pay rise, which means 13 Euro a month in the technology industry, Aalto estimates.

Riku Aalto says that in the main competitor countries of the Finnish technology industry the pay rises have been, in recent times, around 2.5 – 3 per cent. The very moderate pay rise the Union has proposed would in no way endanger the competitiveness of the Finnish industry, he stresses.

The 24 unpaid annual extra hours are the core issue

The core of the disagreement concerning the pay rise level goes back to the very same 24 unpaid extra hours annual work that has seriously inflamed all ongoing collective bargaining right now.

These hours are over now, says the Industrial Union. Whereas most unions included the unpaid extra hours in their collective agreements, the Industrial Union had a number of separate deals with regard to this. From the beginning of 2020, extra hours in the technology industry will end in any event and will not have any effect on the pay rise.

But the employers’ association, on the contrary, is calculating that the pay rise shall be less once the unpaid extra hours are dropped. They say that the cost effect of this is 1.4 per cent and employers must be compensated for this.

The Industrial Union has several other ongoing collective bargaining cases, too. These sectors are going to meet the National Conciliator this week.

The Finnish Forest Industries Federation announced a lockout at several sawmills and plywood factories 12 – 18 December, right after the Union’s three day strike.

Forest industry employers were behind the biggest industrial action in contemporary Finnish labour market history. In 2005, they had a six week lockout affecting 24,000 employees in the Finnish paper industry. The new lockout might suggest that they are once again ready for a similarly dramatic showdown.

Trade Union Pro has announced strikes in industrial branches, also, between 9 and 11 December. Pro is a private sector union for clerical employees, experts, supervisory and managerial staff.

These strikes will continue with strikes in the planning and consulting branches between 11 and 13 December and on 16 – 18 December.

Pro has an unconditional demand to do away with the unpaid 24 annual extra working hours. As the employer is not prepared to negotiate on this, there has been no progress towards a new collective agreement, Pro says.

Heikki Jokinen

Read more:

Chemical sector collective bargaining stopped due to employers demand to hamper organising (12.11.2019)

Employer’s demands for heavy pay and benefit cuts in technology industry stymies collective bargaining (30.10.2019)