The collective agreement negotiations concerning personal assistants’ Heta agreement, conducted since January, will resume next week. The negotiations were interrupted in June because a result desired by the parties was not achieved despite committed attempts.
Conciliation of the prolonged Heta agreement negotiations will continue with the help of the National Conciliator’s Office. The next conciliation appointment has been booked for Monday 28 August.
Active collective agreement negotiations have been conducted already since the end of January. The negotiations have been exceptionally difficult.
To speed up the negotiations, one even had to resort to industrial action measures, which was a first for personal assistants. During the spring, it was necessary to take to a strike not only once but twice.
What JHL is aiming for
One big challenge in the negotiations has been the employer party’s strong determination to limit the sector’s pay raises as a part of general labour market coordination.
According to JHL, the special characteristics of personal assistance work have not been taken into account sufficiently in the negotiations. The sector is suffering from a shortage of employees, and specific measures are needed to increase the attractiveness of personal assistance and improve workforce availability.
The earnings and terms and conditions of employment within personal assistance are lagging behind the social welfare and health care sector in general. There is an intense shortage of assistants, and employee turnover rates are large in the sector.
JHL is aiming for a solution that would level out the sector’s terms and conditions of pay and employment that are lagging behind, take better account of the diversity and demands of assistance duties, and offer better financial compensation for the long shifts that assistants often work.
Wellbeing services counties must take more responsibility
Personal assistance is one of the key services for persons with disabilities, and it is the subjective right of disabled personal assistance users. Wellbeing services counties are in charge of organising personal assistance. However, most of the assistance is provided under the employer model, in which the disabled person themself acts as the employer of their assistant and wellbeing services counties finance the costs of being the employer.
If wellbeing services counties themselves provided the personal assistance they are in charge of organising, the assistants’ pay and terms and conditions of employment would be determined according to the collective agreement for social welfare and health care personnel (SOTE agreement). The terms and conditions of pay and employment are significantly weaker in Heta’s collective agreement.
Wellbeing services counties must bear the responsibility for realising the service they are in charge of organising in a way that allows service availability to be ensured and the working conditions and terms and conditions of employment to be further developed. This requires significant improvements to the current terms and conditions of employment in Heta’s collective agreement.
Increasing need, more demands
Personal assistants are one of the largest occupational groups working within social welfare and health care services. Their number is estimated at over 40,000, and over half of them are employed under the employer model. The new act on services for persons with disabilities will also make it possible to further increase the need for personal assistants and the diversity and demands of their duties.
To ensure that necessary services are available to persons with disabilities, the legislator and wellbeing services counties must ensure sufficient resources for the services.
In the collective agreement negotiations, Trade Union JHL represents the employee party and Heta (the Union of the Employers of Personal Assistants in Finland) represents the employers. The collective agreement for personal assistants is applied to the employer model for personal assistance, which is where the disabled person themself or their representative acts the assistant’s employer and is a member of the Heta union.
Bargaining Specialist Laura Tuominen, 050 409 2460
Bargaining Specialist Hanna Katajamäki, 050 513 7701
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