A shop steward representing senior salaried employees in the workplace acts as a link between the employees and the employer. They are familiar with the work that is done in the workplace and are equal to the other senior employees, speaking the same language, as it were. The shop steward communicates the views of their personnel group to the employer and is involved in making workplace decisions that concern personnel. The goal is to create a good working environment for everyone. The shop steward may also act as a low-threshold support person for any experts whose well-being is at risk.
In many private sector workplaces, the term of office of shop stewards is coming to an end in December. The shop steward and their deputy are elected in a periodic election in the workplace. The term of office is usually two years.
Hopefully, your workplace has a process in place for organising this election. If this is something new to you, you can learn more about the position, duties and rights of a shop steward on TEK’s website (in Finnish). You can learn more about the election procedure and how to organise an election on the website of the Federation of Professional and Managerial Staff YTN. A shop steward can be elected for the workplaces that are covered by collective agreements.
Being a shop steward requires some level of Finnish, especially understanding written text. Even though an increasing number of documents are translated, some collective agreements and majority of labour legislation documents are only available in Finnish. Legal matters will ultimately be interpreted according to the Finnish texts, should any ambiguities arise. Required level of spoken Finnish depends on the workplace and the overall language policies.
TEK’s experts will provide advice and assistance in your work as a shop steward in English as well.
Shop steward makes local bargaining easier
Workplaces these days have a lot of local agreements, since many of our collective agreements allow this. Local bargaining is easier if the employer can negotiate and agree on things with a shop steward – otherwise, the employer would need to negotiate and agree on things with the entire personnel group. This can make local bargaining laborious and slow.
Shop stewards can work out a common understanding for the agreements between the employees and the employer. A common understanding is needed in work life not only now, but in the future more than ever.