TEKin valtuustovaalien kuvituskuva.

General Council election 2023: How should TEK be improved?

News article

We asked the chairs of the factions with seats on the current General Council about their achievements in the past term and how TEK’s activities should be improved in future.

The highest decision-making body of the Academic Engineers and Architects in Finland TEK is the General Council, elected by member vote every three years. The next election will take place in spring next year, and we want to start getting our readers in the mood for election season.

Each council faction was asked to limit their answers in Finnish to no more than 2 000 characters with spaces. The answers were translated to English afterwards. The answers given by the chairs are ordered alphabetically by the name of the faction in Finnish.

Students also have representation on the General Council, but they are not elected. Instead, student representatives are appointed separately for one calendar year at a time. That is why their faction is not included in this poll.

Here are the questions we asked

1. What has your council faction achieved in this past term of council?

2. What sets you apart from the other council factions?

3. How would you improve TEK’s activities?

4. Why should all TEK members be interested in the TEK election and the work of the General Council?

Jari Nummikoski

iTyö, Jari Nummikoski

1. One of the main goals of the iTyö council faction has been and is to improve the conditions of employment for TEK members both in private companies and in the public sector. That is why we have taken a strong role on TEK’s committees, negotiating and approving collective agreements. Our goals include ensuring the salary development of our members and negotiating the other terms of the collective agreements, such as holiday bonuses and most recently the family leave reform, which must be included in the collective agreements. We have also been active on the General Council by putting forward several council initiatives. Through them, we have successfully influenced the operations of TEK, for example so that mentoring activities are now an established part of TEK's service offer and that the Pasila office also has a TEK Lounge that is open to all members.

2. There are several shop stewards and occupational safety representatives in our faction. Due to this, we are familiar with the conditions and challenges in our members’ workplaces. Thanks to our role, we also have an excellent knowledge of collective agreements and labour legislation. Our knowledge is put to good use in TEK’s work to promote members’ interests. As a politically independent faction, it is our core mission to improve the conditions of work and the occupational wellbeing of our members and to promote their interests. New forms of work are here to stay, and it is our job to make sure that they are not simply a way for employers to save money and shift costs to the employee, but that everyone benefits from them.

3. Although TEK has a number of important tasks, such as providing a community for its members, engaging in research activities, promoting the appreciation of technology and working to save this planet, we must still ensure adequate resources for promoting our members’ interests and for providing services in different situations in life.

4. Through the council factions, you can influence the work of the Council. If you run in the council election and are elected as a delegate, you will become one of the highest decision-makers at TEK and enjoy the communal spirit of TEK at its best. If you do not cast your vote, you will allow others to decide how TEK prioritizes its key tasks.

Seppo Pietiläinen, keskusta

The Centre Party (Keskusta), Seppo Pietiläinen

​1. The council faction of the Centre Party has worked in good cooperation with the other factions to ensure that all TEK members would have the best possible input/output ratio for the membership fees that they pay.

2. The Centre Party understands the importance of family as a driving force behind goal-oriented work. The Party places special emphasis on the optimal integration of family and work. This improves the quality of life of employees and families and supports them at different stages in life. We believe that the other council factions of TEK also understand the importance of the availability and standard of education, but our biggest difference lies in the integration of family and work.

3. The Centre Party wishes to improve the support given by TEK to the local shop stewards of companies and governmental offices and to improve their ability to serve members in salary negotiations and collective bargaining. TEK should be even more strongly involved in developing education and the resulting competence to meet the highest international standards in selected priority areas. TEK should strive to influence all the negotiating parties so that the needs of families are given equal consideration across the collective agreement sectors.

4. By taking part in the election as a candidate for the Centre Party, you will have a chance to build networks and gain access to various committees and other possible teams. The election allows you to influence the General Council and thereby the activities of TEK directly. TEK's General Council determines the direction of how your matters are handled in the labour market.

Elina Wanne

The National Coalition Party (Kokoomus), Elina Wanne

1. The goals of the National Coalition Party faction for this term in terms of developing the innovation environment, diverse career paths and further education are already being put to practice as we speak. We have introduced current themes for discussion, for example TEK council initiatives on moving to a post-COVID era on campuses, in workplaces and within TEK as an organization. We work actively on TEK’s Board, the General Council and the committees to influence matters.

2. As members of the National Coalition Party, we consider it important to guarantee good careers, equal working life, lifelong learning and wellbeing for TEK members both now and in the future. Achieving these goals requires both labour market lobbying and services for members, in addition to supporting the TEK member community. Members of the National Coalition Party emphasize the role of societal influencing in achieving TEK’s goals. We are part of a network where solving societal issues is a common free-time activity. We know how to advocate – properly, competently and with determination.

3. TEK must continue to strive to become bigger than its size as an initiator of public debate and a defender of good working life, “a pioneering trade union movement”. Following the major structural reforms that the National Coalition Party has recently led, it is time to focus on actions: timely, effective member services and connecting with members. We need more ways to help people cope at work and make the field of technology more attractive. We also need strong statements from TEK when it comes to issues concerning economic policies, such as the sustainability gap, pensions and taxation.

4. The General Council election every three years is the moment of concrete participation for TEK members: they can run in the election themselves, support another candidate and/or vote. Participation gives you a chance to make your voice and ideas heard. You can send a message about how your work life looks like in reality, that knowledge can be used in TEK, for its members, all of Finland and even the whole world. Being member of the Council means that you learn a lot and can truly make a difference, and we also have fun and even sing together <3.

Kaarin Taipale

Social Democrats (Sosialidemokraatit), Kaarin Taipale

1. Council work is no different from other aspects of life, work life and decision-making in that results can only be achieved through cooperation with your electoral coalition and other groups. We were actively involved in drafting the council programme. For us, the main points were the issues concerning working life and a broad understanding of sustainable development in TEK's activities. Social Democrats have also participated actively in the work of TEK’s committees.

2. We look at the entire lifecycle of a tech professional from their years as a student to their career in research or as an employer or an employee, all the way to becoming an experienced specialist in their retirement age. Nobody can predict what will happen to the TEK member themselves or their loved ones at different points in life. That is why we underline the importance of earnings-related social security and its funding mechanism. For the Social Democrats, sustainable development does not only mean “being green”, but taking environmental, economic and social impacts into consideration in local and global processes.

3. Increasing the number of shop stewards and contact persons at the workplace is important, especially now that local bargaining is becoming more common. We need to have more TEK members as shop stewards. TEK's General Council, which meets twice a year, is the main forum for making the members’ voice heard and for gathering information directly from the management and the committees of TEK. That is why we need more reporting, dialogue and debate in the council meetings! All the operations of TEK should support the efforts to address wicked global problems and achieve the sustainable development goals.

4. If not TEK, then who would advocate for the issues that are important to experts in various fields of technology in higher education, research institutes, working life, public debate and political decision-making? TEK members have many different views and visions of the future. Unless the delegates give them a voice and a face, the picture of reality will be flawed. The old truth still applies: only by participating can you make an impact!

Maija Niemi, TEKin Nuoret

TEK Youth (TEKin Nuoret), Maija Niemi

1. In our council initiative in spring 2021, we hoped that TEK would advocate for equally paid family leave in collective agreements. Following this, YTN announced that its objective in collective bargaining is to negotiate  three-month paid family leave for both parents. We also raised a council initiative to address a socially significant issue by asking “How could TEK support and build a future where us TEK members and all Finns would continue to have the care we need and early childhood education?”. Also, we took part in the active debate on the inclusion of TEK members in decision-making, and the ethics of technology and work life, especially the possibilities to include ethics in technology education. Last but not least to be mentioned is that we have worked together with students to promote the use of gender-neutral job titles at TEK.

2. We are strong advocates of reform. We want to develop TEK's activities and influence the social challenges of integrating work and leisure in the lives of tech professionals. Our faction has several first-term delegates, and new candidates are warmly welcome!

3. Our TEK utilizes data better and uses it to produce just the right services for you at the right time. TEK is a community where every one of us can be an active agent. TEK deals with inequality issues at work and harnesses tech professionals to solve the climate crisis. Our TEK is truly international.

4. The General Council exercises the highest decision-making power at TEK and is a key path for shaping TEK to become the trade union you want it to be. By running and/or voting in TEK’s General Council election, you can have a say in the kind of partner that TEK will be for you during your career.

Jimmy Nylund

TFiFarna, Jimmy Nylund

1. We want to believe that everyone on the General Council deserves credit for the successes we have achieved this term. TFiFarna has worked in active cooperation with the other factions to advance its goals and the council agreement for this term. This concerns not only service development and strategy work, but also sustainable development, for instance.

2. TFiFarna represents the members of Tekniska Föreningen i Finland TFiF (the Swedish speaking union) on TEK’s General Council. TFiFarna is in many ways quite a peculiar council faction. The members of TEK and TFiF vote and run as candidates in their own electoral districts. This system is based on a mutual agreement between TFiF and TEK. We have four seats on the General Council and one on the Board. TFiFarna is mainly associated with the Swedish language, but that does not mean that we do not have opinions or take a stand on other issues as well – on the contrary! TFiFarna is in many ways a bridge-builder between the different council factions. We have a diverse membership, representing both older and younger members of TFiF-TEK. We have a thorough understanding of the wide range of issues that concern the diverse members of TEK.

3. In the future, TEK must continue to work for its members in versatile ways and develop its services, promote the interests of its members in the labour market and lead the way in technological development and education. During this term, TEK has succeeded well in producing information and scenarios that will help us both develop services and promote members’ interests. Sustainable development has become an even more important theme for members and it is vital that TEK continues to take this into account. We want TEK to be active and provide direction in the equality and equity debate, especially in the debate concerning work life. TEK must also continue to work for a more equitable world.

4. The General Council makes decisions concerning TEK’s strategy, goals and funding. If you vote for the faction and the candidate who represents your values, it will be more likely that TEK will make decisions that further these values.

Noora Laak

The Left Alliance (Vasemmisto), Noora Laak 

1. One of the most important moments of the term of council is the council agreement negotiations that set out the common goals and priorities for the term. The Left Alliance participated actively in the negotiations, placing particular emphasis on qualitative issues: improving the quality of working life and, as a long-term goal, reducing working hours. As a small council faction, we must constantly work in cooperation with the other factions and, indeed, we have helped support and draft several council initiatives during the past term.

2. The actions and goals of our faction are based on left-wing values, fair and equal work that is sustainable not only for the environment, but also for the employee. Several factions may have similar goals with slightly different priorities, such as improving the quality of working life or achieving a fair green transition, and we can pursue these goals together through negotiations. I also believe that TEK is such a significant social player that discussing political values and negotiating goals are an essential part of the union’s decision-making and operations management process.

3. It is important that we clear more paths for participating in TEK’s activities and decision-making, for example by allowing members to openly apply for seats on committees in the beginning of an electoral term. The policies and agendas of the union should also be communicated to the members more actively. The transparency of operations is important, especially for young people who are just getting to know TEK.

4. The Council decides on the general outlines of TEK’s activities and their goals – that is why it is particularly important that the members of the Council are an accurate reflection of our broad group of members and their diverse values. The larger the group that runs in or votes in the election, the better we can ensure representativeness. The results of the election and TEK's goals also have a wider social significance, because TEK advocates for issues both in the Finnish society and within Akava.

Minna Kilpala

The Greens (Vihreät), Minna Kilpala

1. The Greens faction has been active on the Council by addressing several issues that improve working life, such as the position of highly educated internationals in the labour market, intergenerational fairness in the pension system, the inclusion of parental leaves in collective agreements and the wish to discuss not only salary, but also qualitative issues in the labour market. We have also been active initiators when it comes to organizational questions. We have challenged the Board in terms of TEK’s exercise of power within Akava and the development of council meetings.

2. We advocate openly for reform, we aim to improve the position of those who are in the weakest position in the labour market, and we always try to be equal, cooperative and transparent when working in the Council. We have our eyes set on a future that is better for everyone.

3. TEK still continues to rely on approaches that are somewhat outdated. Instead of continuous dialogue, we meet twice a year in heavy council meetings where much of our time is spent grappling with meeting technology. Very little information about the work of TEK's Board is shared, even with council members, and it is not easy for us to influence even the most significant policies. We would like to see a TEK that works openly, dynamically and constructively with both labour market and organizational issues.

4. TEK is a major power within Akava and the negotiation organization YTN, which have a significant influence on the labour market. Parental leaves, flexible working hours, the employment of internationals and other similar issues do not truly proceed from the legislation to the workplace until they are included in collective agreements. TEK has the potential to use its voice loudly to address social issues, speaking out on behalf of wellbeing, equality and environmental work, for example. TEK provides great opportunities to advocate for matters as long as the delegates are able to drive the work in the right direction. TEK also has other decision-making bodies where you can influence matters, and the easiest way to gain access to these bodies is through the General Council election.

Mika Uusi-Pietilä

Yhtenäisyys ja Teekkarihenki, Mika Uusi-Pietilä

1. Our group has vigorously and systematically advocated for the development of TEK’s services and activities towards a predictive and suggestive direction by utilizing data. This idea serves as the basis for a major ongoing data project at TEK, supported by a team whose chair is a member of our group, Mikko J. Salminen. In our view, the data project is off to a great start and should be continued by gradually deepening and expanding operations. We consider it important that “data project 2.0” will continue in the upcoming years and during the next term of council.

2. Our group is truly non-party political. We genuinely look at TEK’s operations and priorities across all its sectors of activity, not just from a single angle of advocacy.

3. We should take a fresh look at finding partners (including new ones) for societal influencing also from less conventional areas and free our minds from the “prison of trade unions”. Bold initiatives. As a trade organization, we are still struggling with how to transform TEK into a platform where members could communally help each other more actively. Club activities are a step in the right direction, but they only reach a limited number of TEK’s members. By utilizing data, TEK can serve its members so that they can also address the needs of their workplace communities and help build the future. TEK can introduce some of the sore points of Finnish working life to public debate and help its members solve these issues in their workplaces. TEK as an organization does not need fixing at the moment – on the contrary. However, society does and that is why it is TEK's duty to come together and work vigorously and exemplarily on behalf of the labour reforms in our society to develop the productivity of work and improve the appreciation of education and technological skills.

4. TEK is its members’ organization, and by voting and being active, every member can influence the priorities that TEK will focus on in its societal influencing.