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Background information on industrial relations in Finland

  • 17 Dec 2009
    Finland: Healthcare union advises caution when recruiting nurses from abroad

    The Finnish public healthcare sector is currently suffering from an acute shortage of nurses. It is therefore likely that the immigration of nurses will significantly increase in the future. The Union of Health and Social Care Professionals has put forward principles concerning the recruitment of nursing staff from abroad. The union wishes that foreign healthcare workers will be informed about the terms and conditions of employment before arriving in Finland.

  • 20 Nov 2009
    Finland: Election funding generates controversy among social partners

    Controversy over the funding of the election campaigns of Finland’s political parties has resulted in a serious political crisis. The major right-wing political parties have received notable donations from the TT Foundation of the Confederation of Finnish Industry, whereas the left-wing parties received substantial funding from the trade unions. Owing to the controversy, calls have been issued for the parliament’s dissolution and for a premature election.

  • 14 Oct 2009
    Finland: Technology sector agreement first in new bargaining round

    The first new collective agreement in Finland’s latest bargaining round has been negotiated in the technology industry. The three-year agreement between the Federation of Finnish Technology Industries and the Metalworkers’ Union takes effect in October 2009, covering about 125,000 employees. The social partners have widely welcomed the agreement, which provides for a moderate pay increase, viewing it as a successful opening in a difficult bargaining round.

  • 22 Sep 2009
    Representativeness of the European social partner organisations: Steel industry – Finland

    The aim of this representativeness study is to identify the respective national and supranational actors (i.e. trade unions and employer organisations) in the field of industrial relations in the steel industry in Finland. In order to determine their relative importance in the sector’s industrial relations, this study will, in particular, focus on their representational quality as well as on their role in collective bargaining.

  • 18 Sep 2009
    Finland – Greening the European economy: responses and initiatives by Member States and social partners

    The Finnish National Commission on Sustainable Development (Suomen kestävän kehityksen toimikunta) is the most important tripartite forum − coordinated by the Ministry of the Environment (Ympäristöministeriö) − where different stakeholders present their ideas, goals and programmes and engage in a broad debate about ecological sustainability and greening the economy. Since its establishment in 1993, the task of the Commission has been to promote and coordinate the implementation of sustainable development in Finland. Both peak employer organisations and trade union confederations have been active in the greening issues. Social partners have made their own energy and climate policy targeting.

  • 16 Sep 2009
    Finland: Social partners criticise stimulus package in draft 2010 budget

    The Finnish Ministry of Finance has unveiled the country’s draft 2010 budget, which includes a separate stimulus package with the aim of preventing an economic recession. With this budget, the government hopes to foster employment in 2010. However, both the trade union and employer sides have criticised the stimulus package as they believe that it will not have a significant impact on boosting employment.

  • 15 Sep 2009
    Finland: Flexicurity and industrial relations

    The cornerstone of Finnish employment strategy has been to promote economic growth and to solve unemployment problems through a tripartite cooperation. The rise in the activation rate was significantly affected by reforms in labour policy implemented in mid-2000s. These included reforms in the labour policy guidance system. A new change security model, agreed as part of the 2005–2007 national incomes policy accord, extends employees’ right to individual re-employment programmes, drawn up by state employment offices. The main aim of this new model is to increase cooperation both at workplaces and with the labour authorities, so as to enable redundant workers to find alternative employment as swiftly as possible.

  • 31 Aug 2009
    Finland: Trade union support for sexual and gender minorities

    The Central Organisation of Finnish Trade Unions (SAK) has launched a special campaign to improve the status of sexual and gender minorities at work and in the trade union movement. SAK’s open declaration of support for gender minorities is a new departure for the Finnish trade union movement. The organisation highlights that an equitable workplace can lead to better job satisfaction and higher productivity.

  • 31 Aug 2009
    Finland: Trade unions propose holiday bank for temporary workers

    Trade unions have presented the idea of a holiday bank for workers on a temporary employment contract. The bank would secure the worker’s leave when changing jobs or when the employment contract expires. Leave accrued in one job would follow a worker into another. However, the Confederation of Finnish Industries has rejected the proposal of a holiday bank, stating that implementing the idea would be too expensive.

  • 06 Aug 2009
    Finland: New national conciliator appointed after lengthy process

    The long and complicated search for Finland’s next national conciliator came to an end when the Minister of Labour announced that the social partner organisations had finally decided to nominate Esa Lonka, a current district conciliator. Mr Lonka was put forward as the nominee, after the trade union confederations’ own candidates failed to secure the support of all three trade union organisations.

  • 29 Jul 2009
    Representativeness of the European social partner organisations: Tanning and leather sector – Finland

    The aim of this representativeness study is to identify the respective national and supranational actors (i.e. trade unions and employer organisations) in the field of industrial relations in the tanning and leather sector in Finland. In order to determine their relative importance in the sector’s industrial relations, this study will, in particular, focus on their representational quality as well as on their role in collective bargaining.

  • 27 Jul 2009
    Finland: Differing views of trade unions on national statutory minimum wage

    The Central Organisation of Finnish Trade Unions argues that full-time workers should be paid at least €1,500 a month. The Finnish Confederation of Professionals has criticised the proposal for resembling the idea of a ‘citizen’s wage’ or a guaranteed pension. Finland has no statutory national minimum wage, but most employees are covered by collective agreements setting sectoral minimum pay rates. However, minimum wages in selected industries have been about half of full-time workers’ average earnings.

  • 02 Jul 2009
    Finland: Multinational companies and collective bargaining

    In 2007, the foreign affiliates located in Finland employed nearly 222,000 employees. Their turnover accounted for some 20 % of the turnover of all enterprises and their personnel for a good 14 %. In 2007, the 500 largest Finnish companies employ 0.9 million employees of which 0.4 million jobs are abroad. Particularly, the home-owned MNCs have been a driving force in the change of bargaining structure from centralized collective bargaining towards company-level bargaining. The home-owned MNCs have been forerunners in implementation of flexible working time arrangements and locally agreed pay increase models too. The MNCs in Finland are covered by sectoral collective agreements.

  • 29 Jun 2009
    Finland: New president of SAK elected

    The Central Organisation of Finnish Trade Unions (SAK) has appointed the Director of its collective bargaining department, Lauri Lyly, as the organisation’s new President. The outgoing president, Lauri Ihalainen, was SAK’s longest-serving president, having led the organisation since 1990. Mr Lyly will initially be appointed for two years or until the SAK Congress in June 2011. He has already called for greater consensus among the national trade union organisations.

  • 05 Jun 2009
    Finland: Employers rule out pay increases in current crisis

    The Confederation of Finnish Industries has described the current economic crisis as being so difficult that pay increases are not possible in the upcoming bargaining round. In the employers’ opinion, Finland cannot afford to raise pay levels. In April 2009, the social partners met for the first time to discuss the next collective agreements. The trade unions argue that moderate pay increases would support workers’ purchasing power and ensure economic recovery in the long term.

  • 30 Apr 2009
    Finland: Parliament approves controversial Lex Nokia bill

    The Finnish parliament has approved the controversial ‘Lex Nokia’ bill, allowing employers to view employees’ email metadata if they suspect corporate secrets are being leaked. The bill has sparked controversy after claims that the Confederation of Finnish Industries had pressurised the Confederation of Unions for Professional and Managerial Staff to support the legislation. It also seems that the Finnish mobile phone company Nokia was involved in the act’s preparation from the outset.

  • 28 Apr 2009
    FINLAND: Wage flexibility and collective bargaining

    The Finnish payroll system has been rigid in international comparison. The largely centralised wage bargaining system - based mainly on central wage policy agreements and subsequent sectoral agreements - has been based on the principles of 'solidaristic' pay policy since the 1970s. The significance of variable payments systems has recently increased in Finland. The recent trend can be described as “increased individual pay increases”, which means that the Finnish pay system is slowly moving from the rigid pay model to a more flexible system that takes more account of local needs and facilitates wage payments that are also based on individual and company-level performance. In 2006 in the manufacturing industry, result and profit-based bonuses were paid to 31.5 % of workers (blue-collar workers) and 63.9 % of clericals (white-collar workers). In the financing services (retail banks) in 2006, the proportion of employees who received result and profit-based bonuses was 48.6 %.

  • 28 Apr 2009
    Representativeness of the European social partner organisations: Hospitals – Finland

    The aim of this representativeness study is to identify the respective national and supranational actors (i.e. trade unions and employer organisations) in the field of industrial relations in the hospital sector in Finland. In order to determine their relative importance in the sector’s industrial relations, this study will, in particular, focus on their representational quality as well as on their role in collective bargaining.

  • 14 Apr 2009
    Finland: Impartiality of national conciliator in Finnair dispute questioned

    The Finnish Airline Pilots’ Association (SLL), representing Finnair pilots, has rejected a proposal by the national conciliator, Juhani Salonius, who is seeking to settle the dispute. The pilots and the company have been in conflict over issues such as pensions, the use of contract labour, days off and the number of pilots on flights. The conciliation process took a surprising twist when SLL filed an investigation request regarding the impartiality of the national conciliator.

  • 02 Apr 2009
    Finland: Widespread opposition to government plan to raise retirement age

    The government’s proposal to raise the retirement age without consulting the social partners generated massive trade union mobilisation against the reforms. The presidents of three trade union confederations accused the government of abandoning the traditional Finnish tripartite process, and the possibility of a general strike was threatened. As a result, the government started negotiations with the social partners and subsequently withdrew its earlier plans.

  • 31 Mar 2009
    Finland: Nokia wins company right to monitor employee emails

    Numerous unnamed civil servants, politicians and representatives of labour market organisations have told the Finnish newspaper ‘Helsingin Sanomat’ that Finland-headquartered mobile phone maker Nokia had threatened to leave Finland if parliament failed to pass a piece of legislation known as the ‘Lex Nokia’ bill. Lex Nokia would grant employers access to employees’ email metadata if they suspected a breach of confidentiality clauses.

  • 31 Mar 2009
    Finland: Wage formation

    During the past four decades, the main system of wage formation has been collective bargaining between trade union confederations and employers’ confederations. Collective bargaining at branch level between trade unions and employers’ associations is the main determinant. The wage bargaining rounds at sectoral level provide a framework for company level negotiations. There has been a significant shift towards company-level agreements and the reform of pay systems in the 2007 bargaining round. Current sectoral agreements contain many possibilities of so-called local pay which means that the locally negotiated pay increase pool has to be increased substantially.

  • 24 Mar 2009
    Finland: Social partners sign agreement on welfare and unemployment

    Finland’s national social partner organisations have reached an agreement on welfare and unemployment issues. The agreement provides for an increase in the national pension contribution, which raised criticism among the employers. However, this measure is to be linked to an increase in contributions to regular pension plans, of which employers and employees will share the costs. Access to unemployment benefits is also to be increased, as is the minimum age for receipt of unemployment pensions.

  • 16 Mar 2009
    Finland: Candidates in the running for SAK presidency

    The Central Organisation of Finnish Trade Unions (SAK) will soon appoint a new president, as Lauri Ihalainen has confirmed his intention to retire in May 2009. Potential contenders for the job include Lauri Lyly, Head of SAK’s bargaining department, and Ann Selin, Chair of the Service Union United. However, a secretary of the Paper Workers’ Union, Petri Vanhanen, has moved to first place in the rankings, with support from influential industrial and transport unions.

  • 16 Mar 2009
    Finland: Government unveils stimulus packages for economic recovery

    The Finnish government has approved a supplementary budget for 2009 including a special stimulus package. The overall impact should amount to €2 billion. It includes about €140 million in transport infrastructure projects. The social partners have welcomed the stimulus package, with trade unions highlighting the emphasis on construction projects while the Confederation of Finnish Industries considered it a positive step towards supporting economic revival.

  • 11 Mar 2009
    FINLAND: EIRO annual review — 2007

    The year 2007 saw a breakdown in the national incomes policy agreements, and a significant turn towards enterprise-level settlements and reform of pay systems has taken place in 2007 bargaining round. The new collective agreements offered relatively high pay increases to all employees, and the pay increases in the public (local and central government) sector were even higher than in the private sector. Both the employers’ associations and trade unions have been generally satisfied with the content of the agreements. Nevertheless, the unions have emphasised that the door must remain open to centralised national incomes policy agreements in the future.

  • 09 Mar 2009
    The impact of the information and consultation directive on industrial relations — Finland

    On 1 July 2007 a revised Act on Cooperation within Undertakings came into force. The new Act extended the law to workplaces with at least 20 employees. This will bring a further 2,800 enterprises and 66,000 employees approximately within its scope. The scope of application of the Act is also extended to cover all corporations and foundations, irrespective of whether their activities are intended for profit or not, or of who funds them.The reforms also place a greater emphasis on the importance of seeking full consensus in cooperation negotiations. The social partners have mainly welcomed the revision, with the exception of the Federation of Finnish Enterprises(), which represents small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and which has been very critical of the new Act, considering that extending the scope to enterprises with 20 employees will make their operation more difficult.

  • 06 Feb 2009
    FINLAND: Collective bargaining and continuous vocational training

    The Employment Contracts Act 55/2001 and the Act on Cooperation within Undertakings (725/1978) (as amended by several acts, including No 457/2005) are the legislation concerning CVT in Finland. The role of the social partners in the system of CVT is very important. However, it does not take place in collective negotiations or agreements; rather it will take place by participating in board of directors in some educational and training institutes. The Adult Education Survey 2006 by Statistics Finland shows that a total number of 57 % of employees, together 1,1 million people participated in 2006 in the employer-sponsored vocational training.

  • 04 Feb 2009
    Finland: New tax reliefs and improved social security entitlements

    In February 2009, the Finnish government will reduce income tax rates and increase various social security entitlements. The tax credit for domestic costs and daily allowances for sickness, maternity and paternity leave, and rehabilitation measures will be extended. Moreover, unemployment benefit will increase slightly. According to the Taxpayers’ Association of Finland, the purchasing power of an average wage earner will rise by up to 4.6% in 2009, three times more than the 1.5% increase in 2008.

  • 04 Feb 2009
    Finland: Employers propose pay freeze for 2009

    The Confederation of Finnish Industries has proposed a revaluation of the agreed pay increases in 2009 due to the rapidly changing economic situation. As part of the proposal, the employer organisation has suggested that labour market organisations should consider the possibility of postponing or freezing previously agreed pay increases in 2009 to avoid layoffs and dismissals. However, the trade unions and Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen have rejected the proposal.

  • 19 Jan 2009
    Finland: Social partners agree to allow year-round Sunday trading

    The Service Union United and the Federation of Finnish Commerce have reached a joint proposal that would allow all shops to remain open every Sunday. The agreement was reached with difficulty, with the trade union demanding the need for employee consent, safety assessments and bonus payments. Meanwhile, employers gave a mixed reaction, with small traders in particularx criticising the measure. The government parties also have differing views on the matter.

  • 19 Jan 2009
    Finland: Merger trends among trade unions and employer groups

    At the moment, several attempts towards trade union mergers are ongoing in Finland. Furthermore, eight employer organisations have recently established a joint body. The mergers primarily aim to consolidate forces in particular sectors of economic activity and to avoid wasting resources in mutual rivalries. However, mergers bring their own challenges, with a two-year cooperation between professional trade unions ending in December 2008.

  • 13 Jan 2009
    Finland: Increase in cases against employers for consecutive use of fixed-term contracts

    In recent years, an increasing number of employees on fixed-term employment contracts have been taking their employers to court. Under existing Finnish law, employers must provide concrete reasons if they want to retain workers on consecutive fixed-term contracts. Of those workers who have taken a case against their employer, most have won their case. In general, the public sector has a high incidence of workers on fixed-term contracts.

Page last updated: 05 September, 2014