Goforelaisia Tampereen toimistolla.

Both sides happy with Gofore’s DIY collective agreement

7.6.2022
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News article

Tampere-based Gofore negotiated a collective agreement that both the employer and the employee side are very happy with. “The negotiations were actually quite painless.”

Caption: Public. Gofore’s company-specific collective agreement can be found on the company’s website where anyone can read it. Pictured left to right: CEO Mikael Nylund (facing the other way), shop steward Ella Lopperi, Anne Sivula and Janne Murtonen at Gofore’s office in Tampere.

Expert company in digital services Gofore has concluded its very own company-specific collective agreement with its employees. This agreement replaces the previous sector-specific agreements used in the company.

Gofore has published the 56-page agreement on its website where anyone can browse its contents.

Juho Salmi, the chief shop steward of the company during the negotiation period, actively participated in the negotiations which lasted all of last autumn. The result was a company-specific collective agreement, which was signed in the beginning of January.

There wasn’t really that much wrestling over things.

“There wasn’t really that much wrestling over things. The negotiations were actually quite painless. We were even able to reach a salary settlement without raising voices,” says Salmi.

Gofore used to comply with the Collective Agreement of the IT Service Sector.

“In terms of the salary settlement and in other respects as well, this is better than the general collective agreement. Naturally, nobody is ever entirely satisfied with their salary, but we employees are quite happy with this,” says Salmi.

It has been almost six months since the agreement entered into force and Juho Salmi has changed jobs since then, but the staff remains happy with the agreement.

“The company’s own collective agreement has inspired a lot of positive discussion and general interest in the things that can be included in a collective agreement. We have heard a lot of positive feedback from our staff, but some have already started thinking about the things that could be added to a possible next version,” says Gofore's shop steward Ella Lopperi.

Four possible salary increases per year

Gofore’s company-specific collective agreement does not contain any traditional salary tables. The company has so far agreed on salaries individually with each employee.

Instead, the agreement contains a clause whereby salaries are increased four times a year. The increase depends on the company’s growth and profitability.

“This agreement gives us better across-the-board increases than the national collective agreement. At least if the company continues on its positive path of development. But even if the firm struggles, the salaries will not be reduced,” says Juho Salmi.

According to Salmi, positive salary development is also driven by the severe shortage of programming talent. A company pursuing success needs to offer a decent salary if it wants to recruit professionals to join its ranks.

The agreement was facilitated by a sounding board made up of the employees, which anyone at Gofore could join. It met three times and the discussions gave the negotiators plenty of ideas on what should be included in the agreement.

With its public company-specific agreement, Gofore is something of a pioneer in Finland. Salmi has in fact received inquiries from his colleagues in other firms about the agreement and its creation process.

With its public company-specific agreement, Gofore is something of a pioneer in Finland.

“I have provided some consultation to the shop stewards of other firms based on my experiences.”

One of the ideas that has been suggested is that collective agreements could be concluded jointly with several businesses.

“We decided not to get involved in that, because these things are, as the agreement’s name implies, very much company-specific.”

Ella Lopperi mentions that the company-specific collective agreement has already resulted in salary increases.

“The increase scheme contained in the collective agreement was originally agreed on in early 2021 when coming up with the local salary settlement, and we have now already seen increases during the term of the new collective agreement.”

“The keyword is trust”

Although Gofore's company-specific collective agreement was mainly negotiated locally, the process also involved the employees’ of negotiation organizations YTN (The Federation of Professional and Managerial Staff YTN) and Tietoala ry (Association of IT Sector Employees).

“When the Technology Industries of Finland decided to stop negotiating sector-specific collective agreements, we were kind of left hanging. That is when I decided to invite the employees’ representatives to talk about whether we should conclude a company-specific agreement. The suggestion was received well and within three months, we had an agreement ready,” says Gofore's CEO Mikael Nylund.

“Many things were new to us and sometimes it felt like we were taking a leap into the unknown. But both sides are happy with the final result.”

“All in all, the negotiation process was a positive experience.”

CEO Nylund emphasizes that the resulting agreement corresponds to Gofore's values and “matches the company’s style".

Collective agreement solutions are often followed by the employer grumbling about the costly agreement they had to make. Nylund does not grumble.

“The salary increases depend on the company’s success. That is fine by us and by our employees.”

Nylund also emphasizes the public nature of the agreement.

“This was published immediately without any secret additional protocols. We want to show the way for working life by negotiating our agreement fairly and transparently.”

Nylund did not have to have the agreement approved by the board of the company, but signing it was his operational decision.

“The keyword in our company is trust. The board trusted the CEO to be able to negotiate an agreement that benefits all parties.”

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Threat or opportunity, Teemu Hankamäki?

As the Labour Market Director of Academic Engineers and Architects in Finland TEK and the Chair of the Federation of Professional and Managerial Staff YTN, what do you think about businesses and employees negotiating company-specific collective agreements?

“It’s a good thing that employees and employers can agree on the terms and conditions of employment together, and it’s important that the workplace complies with either a national or a company-specific collective agreement.”

What do you think about Gofore’s collective agreement?

“Gofore's collective agreement sets a good example for others as well, because the level of the terms of employment exceeds the level imposed by the national collective agreement. It’s an interesting detail that salary increases are closely tied to the company’s result and decided four times a year. Time will show if it will become a problem that the salaries don’t increase at all if the company ends up making no profit for a long time.”

Are company-specific collective agreements a threat or an opportunity for TEK and YTN?

“Company-specific collective agreements are certainly an opportunity, because it’s important to be able to agree on the terms and conditions of employment locally and in mutual understanding even in cases where there is no national collective agreement or it is not binding.”