The strike warning has been filed for 25–31 May 2023. In addition, the ban on additional work, overtime and shift swaps and the job search embargo that have already been started will continue..
The sector’s collective agreement period expired at the end of April. Negotiations have been conducted for over three months. The collective agreement for personal assistants is applied to employment relationships where the disabled person themself or their representative acts as the assistant’s employer and is a member of Heta (the Union of the Employers of Personal Assistants in Finland).
To speed up the negotiations, JHL is declaring a strike that applies to work shifts carried out between 12.01 am on Thursday 25 May 2023 and 11.59 pm on Wednesday 31 May 2023. The strike applies to duties within pay group A in the Helsinki Metropolitan Region (Helsinki, Espoo, Vantaa and Kauniainen).
JHL is continuing the ban on additional work, overtime and shift swaps, and the job search embargo that have already been started. New measures that the union has included in the industrial actions are agreements on long work shifts, agreements on exceptions to travel time’s work and rest periods, and agreements that concern diverting from overtime compensation. These industrial action measures apply to the entire country.
Work tasks that threaten life and health have been ruled out of the industrial actions.
The measures also target employers who use the employer model but are not members of Heta (the Union of the Employers of Personal Assistants in Finland). The aim of this is that an even larger number of personal assistants would be protected by the collective agreement’s terms and conditions of pay and employment. Responsible employers join the employer union.
Assistants out of the pay gap, difficulty of the work must be recognised, terms and conditions of employment need to be put in order
From JHL’s perspective, the biggest challenges of the collective agreement negotiations have to do with the fact that the earnings level of personal assistants is too low in relation to how demanding and diverse the work is. The sector’s terms and conditions of employment are also weaker than that of the social welfare and health care sector.
− 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. The terms and conditions of employment are significantly weaker compared to wellbeing services counties producing the service themselves. There are also people acting as employers who are not sufficiently capable of it. These include people with disabilities or with memory loss, JHL President Päivi Niemi-Laine justifies.
Furthermore, she emphasises that the status and terms and conditions of employment of personal assistants working under the employer model must be improved so that it is possible to commit oneself to the demanding work and earn a living wage from the work.
Personal assistance involves strengthening the independent life and self-determination of persons with disabilities. Personal assistants help with daily functions at the assistance user’s home and make it possible to, say, work, study and have leisure-time hobbies. Already now, working in the sector demands a lot from a person.
− The work is constantly becoming more diverse. Among other things, there is an increased need for various care duties and competence in using communication methods. However, the nature of the work tasks may vary a lot depending on the assistance user’s individual needs. A new act on services for persons with disabilities will enter into force in October. As a result, the difficulty level of the work will increase even further. For instance, so-called self-care duties such as using a suction device, catheterisation, handing out medicines and wound care will increase in personal assistance, JHL’s Senior Bargaining Specialist Laura Tuominen explains.
JHL’s survey reveals that pay and difficulty level do not match in the sector
Before the round of negotiations, JHL conducted a survey on the personal assistance sector’s working conditions and how the terms and conditions of employment should be further developed. The survey was targeted to JHL members working as personal assistants. Read a summary (in Finnish) of the experiences of personal assistants who replied to the survey. They report about their work, working conditions and earnings level.
The employer model is also based on long work shifts. As long as the occupational safety and health of assistants is realised, JHL is not against the flexibility of working time as such. It is a part of the nature of personal assistance work. However, in the current situation, personal assistants do not get overtime compensation for being flexible. In the collective agreement for personal assistants (Heta-tes), work shifts can be up to 48 hours long. If wellbeing services counties themselves provided personal assistance, the overtime and overtime compensation of assistants would be determined in accordance with the social welfare and health care sector’s SOTE agreement.
– According to JHL, assistants deserve a fair compensation for reacting in a flexible manner to the assistance user’s individual needs, Tuominen states.
If wellbeing services counties themselves provided the personal assistance they are in charge of organising, the assistants’ overtime and its level of compensation would be determined according to the collective agreement for social welfare and health care personnel (SOTE agreement).
At the moment, the employer model is the most common way of providing personal assistance. There is however a large shortage of assistants, the shortest employment relationships are only a few months long, and it is difficult to find regular assistants. Over 20,000 personal assistants work under the employer model.
President Päivi Niemi-Laine, 040 702 4772
Senior Bargaining Specialist Laura Tuominen, 050 4092 460