”We should be doing the highest paid work in the world"

News article

Cutting down on labour costs does not result in a competitive edge on the long term, says Teemu Hankamäki. Instead of reduced salaries, we should be talking about expertise and quality.

– In Finland, we should be doing the highest paid work in the world, said TEK’s negotiations manager Teemu Hankamäki at an Akava Works event on 23.2.

According to Hankamäki, the discussion in Finland should focus on solving the question of how we could produce services and products that are competitive to those produced in our peer countries.

– How are we conducting expertise-intensive work in Finland? How could we conduct it in the best way possible? What could we do differently? These are the questions that offer limitless competitive opportunities for Finland. If we simply cut down on labour costs instead, we will gain no competitive advantage.

Hankamäki refers to an Akava Works survey (in Finnish) in which employers voiced their desire to locally negotiate salary reductions, among other issues. 

– We should be talking about something else besides reducing salaries. The need for local negotiations will be increasing. Local negotiations will become especially topical and even a necessity with regard to questions of productivity and occupational well-being.

Local negotiations are founded on an atmosphere of trust. 

The collective agreements of senior salaried employees create a terrific template for local negotiations. 

– The agreements leave a lot of room for differing arrangements regarding annual raises and the terms and conditions of work. Fortunately, over the years we have developed the ability and the trust to agree.

Hankamäki believes that local negotiations should be based on three factors: need, will and skill. 

– The need for local negotiations arises within the company. The will to create a local agreement is born when there is trust between the employer and the employee, and they both share an understanding of the company’s situation. Skill is required to ensure that everything goes smoothly, and both the employer and the employee understand the scope of matters that can be locally negotiated. 

Local negotiations are founded on an atmosphere of trust in the workplace. 

– Healthy dialogue is crucial, and it must be promoted both at workplaces and in between labour market organisations. This generates the trust that is required at all levels of working life.