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Collective bargaining in industry and private services finally moves forward, public sector is still awaiting results

By now, most of the industry sectors have agreed upon new collective agreements. For example, the Industrial Union announced on 24 February that they have reached a resolution in negotiations for all of their collective agreements in the technology sector.

Trade Union Pro has also made new progress in collective bargaining, being able to close some deals and move forward in other negotiations. The employers are finally ready to negotiate and strike a deal with Pro, after a long period of reluctance to do so.

Signs of an end to the deadlock in the private services sector are also apparent after Service Union United PAM reached major agreements for the retail trade and facilities services. However, PAM still has many agreements to negotiate.

The general line in agreements made so far is a pay rise of approximately 3.3 per cent and a 25 month agreement. The 24 unpaid annual extra working hours – which were included as a part of the national Competitiveness Pact in 2016 – is set to disappear everywhere.

The employer will receive some sort of compensation for this, however, usually in the form of a new flexibility in working hours.

Public sector next

Soon it is the turn of the public sector, and there will be new difficulties. Most of the collective agreements of Tehy – The Union of Health and Social Care Professionals in Finland are due to expire at the end of March.

Tehy have proposed jointly with Super – the Finnish Union of Practical Nurses a ten-year salary programme for health and social care professionals. It would offer an annual 1.8 percentage point higher pay rise than in the male-dominated technology industry sectors.

The response to this proposal has been met with less than a ringing endorsement, to say the least, by the employers side. They say there is no money available unless the state offers more money to the municipalities. The unions agree, and are asking the Government to draft a programme which would finance the plan.

In any case the pay rise in this negotiation round can not be less than in the industry, unions stress.

Tehy and Super are also demanding a separate collective agreement for municipal social and health care workers. As things now stand the 170,000 employees in this sector are part of the main municipal collective agreement. Under their own agreement, negotiations would be easier and guarantee better targeted terms of work, unions believe.

Without a positive pay development the whole branch becomes less attractive and might have growing difficulties to recruit competent employees, unions fear.

“Now, the question is not whether we can afford to raise the pay. The question is whether we can afford not to raise the pay”, says Millariikka Rytkönen, Tehy President.

The main collective agreements of JHL – The Trade Union for the Public and Welfare Sectors are also expiring at the end of March. The Union has some one hundred collective agreements.

At the end of February JHL said that progress in negotiations has been slow. So far, the Union has called overtime and shift swap bans in some sectors.

The general goals of JHL are that the sectors with low incomes should get higher pay rises as enjoyed by the technology sector. The 24 unpaid annual working hours must also be dropped.

Heikki Jokinen

Read more:
PAM close deals on facilities services and retail trade (17.02.2020)

Health care and public services unions demand a targeted pay rise and a ten-year salary programme (10.10.2019)