Just a day before a strike was due to start in the facilities services, the Service Union United PAM reached agreement on a new collective agreement in the sector on 17 February.
The new 25 months agreement will increase pay by 2.0 per cent from 1 April 2020 and a further 1.3 per cent from 1 April 2021. The troublesome 24 annual extra unpaid working hours – added to the agreement in 2016 as a part of the national competitiveness pact – will disappear at the end of this year.
The employers were successful regarding some questions concerning more flexibility in setting working hours. Details of the deal will be published within a few days.
“The removal of the competitiveness pact hours and the front-loading of pay rises made the negotiating outcome acceptable. I am happy that we reached an agreement based on our negotiations,” PAM President Annika Rönni-Sällinen says.
More than 50,000 workers are covered by the new deal and who work in cleaning and maintenance, technical services, facilities services and green area tending.
Strike avoided in retail trade
The leading sector for PAM is the commercial sector or retail trade. It covers some 160,000 PAM members.
Negotiations were stalled, as in many other sectors, due to the employers hard line-refusal to negotiate on the extra 24 annual unpaid working hours. The old agreement expired in January.
The union called a strike earlier this month. “Despite our best efforts the negotiations failed to make progress. Because of this we had no other alternative but to decide on large-scale industrial action covering almost 50,000 jobs. Obviously the employers’ federations will now have to face the consequences of committing to sticking to their coordinated approach”, said Pam President Annika Rönni-Sällinen at the time.
On 14 February, however, both the union and employers association accepted the deal.
“Reaching a negotiating result was difficult, and accepting it wasn’t easy either. The front-loading of pay rises and the removal of the competitiveness pact hours while keeping the annual leave system were the things that made it possible to accept the agreement. The final outcome is better than striking”, PAM President Annika Rönni-Sällinen says.
This two years agreement will increase pay by 2.0 per cent from 1 April 2020 and a further 1.3 per cent from 1 April 2021. There is no increase in Sunday or evening allowances.
One of the major goals of PAM was to improve the situation of part-time employees. “In the future, based on local agreement and a trial period, part-time workers will have access to flexible full-time working. This means that part-time workers will have the chance to get monthly wages”, PAM explains.
From now on the actual working time of each part-time employee will be checked over six-month periods, unless a longer assessment period is agreed locally.
The road to new agreements is now open
Another recent case concerning the dropping of the 24 hours is the agreement by the Federation of Professional and Managerial Staff YTN on 13 February for 61,000 senior salaried employees in the industry. By way of concession the employers will now have some room to set working hours.
With the recent collective agreements in industry, the employers have obviously been rethinking their steadfast refusal to negotiate on the 24 unpaid hours.
It seems that employers in various sectors are now ready – or authorised – to negotiate on these 24 hours, but only in return for certain demands being met in other parts of the collective agreements.
For unions, it is difficult to go to their members with an agreement that still includes the 24 annual unpaid working hours. This puts the employers in a good position to barter on other issues in the collective agreements.