Trade unions crippling the economy – numerous industrial strikes announced by unions
Technology Industries of Finland is talking to all the unions and has made the most progress so far with the Industrial Union, which traditionally sets the course for the rest of the technology industry. The Industrial Union’s strike threat is designed to force through its excessive and unreasonable demands on workers’ pay, which would erode competitiveness and inevitably lead to job losses.
Technology Industries of Finland has taken an active role in trying to find a solution, and most of the issues with the Industrial Union have now been resolved. A final agreement has still not been reached, however, and the negotiations are stuck on the Industrial Union’s demands for higher pay. No proposals of less favourable terms of employment have been put forward.
The Industrial Union’s demands show disregard for employment and economic realities. Global economic uncertainty and declining demand are already affecting the technology industry: industrial operators are taking in fewer orders, and there has been a sharp drop in the number of invitations to tender. The solutions adopted in this key export industry have a huge impact on employment.
“The economy has recovered from an almost 10-year slump in recent years, competitiveness has improved and employment has increased. The Industrial Union seems to be prepared to negate this progress in one fell swoop. Oversized pay rises would be a real threat to employment. With economic growth slowing down, maintaining healthy employment is difficult enough as it is”, says Minna Helle, Executive Director, Industrial Relations at Technology Industries of Finland.
According to Helle, negotiations over the collective agreement have been hampered by the Industrial Union’s stubbornly negative attitude towards the Competitiveness Pact and all alternative ways to structure working hours. The Industrial Union has even shot down a proposal to agree on the extra hours introduced by the Competitiveness Pact locally and to pay workers for those hours. The increasingly challenging economic situation is adding to the difficulty, which is why the level of pay requires particularly careful attention.
“Employers’ main objective is to increase cost competitiveness. Cutting working hours increases employers’ labour costs and leaves less room for pay rises. Continuing with longer working hours would open up possibilities of bigger pay rises and therefore boost workers’ purchasing power”, Helle explains.
Employers’ objectives deliberately misrepresented
Technology Industries of Finland’s negotiations with Trade Union Pro have been fraught with difficulty, and the issue of pay has not even been addressed yet. The biggest sticking point has been the extra hours introduced by the Competitiveness Pact. Negotiations with the Federation of Professional and Managerial Staff YTN have also made little progress.
“There is a general nasty vibe about the current round of negotiations. Many trade unions have deliberately misrepresented employers’ objectives in the media. If, for example, we have been talking about alternative ways to structure working hours, trade unions have listed them all together and told the press that the employers’ union is pursuing all the alternatives at the same time. It is impossible not to think that trade unions are using these negotiations as a campaign platform for recruiting new members. This is not the way to build trust and a healthy collective bargaining culture”, Helle says.
Minna Helle, Executive Director, Industrial Relations, phone +358 (0)50 341 4884
Jarkko Ruohoniemi, Director, Industrial Relations, phone +358 (0)40 833 9577 (Pro and YTN negotiations)