FINLAND: Collective bargaining process in the technology sector suspended

FINLAND: Collective bargaining process in the technology sector suspended

FINLAND: Collective bargaining process in the technology sector suspended

By Milla Leppänen, IFWEA Secretariat intern

Negotiations within the technology sector have not reached a new two year agreement since beginning in August 2019. The existing agreement expired on 31 October 2019. The suspension of negotiations is not preferred but is necessary, as the negotiating parties have too many differences in views and interpretations.

The first and hardest blocking point is the 24-hour extension to annual working time. This was agreed in autumn 2016, by the Finland traditional tripartite, as a part of the so-called Competitiveness Pact. It was the result of heavy pressure from the Finnish, at the time right-wing government, and from the union’s perspective was considered a compromise to much more demeaning work legislation planned.

From the employee’s point of view, the extension was agreed to be temporary for the next three years, from 2017 to 2019. However, employers are considering the extension to be permanent. Discussions about possible wage increases for the coming years have not even started yet. Employers have not brought any proposals for the improvement of employment terms to the table. The Industrial Union has been left with no alternative but to expedite the negotiations through industrial action to protect the position and rights of workers.

The Industrial Union has declared an overtime ban for 4 to 15 November 2019. The overtime ban includes four out of 34 agreement sectors: the technology industry, sheet and industrial insulation industry, mining industry and Ministry of Defense. Employees will refuse to work overtime during the overtime ban as a legal action in response to failed negotiations. Employers cannot order employees to work overtime or terminate the employment contracts of employees taking part in the industrial action.

The unpaid the 24-hour extension to annual working time has been inefficient and unfair to employees. According to the Central Organisation of Finnish Trade Unions (SAK) shop steward panel, the extension of the working hours brought by the Competitiveness Pact has not increased employment in workplaces or improved competitiveness in the markets. The Ministry of Finance’s economic review on spring 2019 confirmed that this was actually cutting income levels: in 2017, real income development dropped to -0.5%. Employers unit labor costs fell by -2.1% in the same year.

The employers’ statement for the negotiations is that eliminating the 24-hours additional working time would reduce possible wage increases to be negotiated for the coming years. The Industrial Union is prepared for further actions and the situation is being carefully followed.