What is happening on the labour market, Teemu Hankamäki?

News article

The work group on local negotiations could not reach a consensus and an announcement by Technology Industries Finland is rearranging next autumn’s labour market negotiation tables. What is going on?

The work group on local negotiations consisting of employee and employer organizations concluded its work without reaching a unanimous proposal. The work group announced on April 14th that in the current situation the conditions for drafting a joint proposal do not exist.

The work group, led by State Secretary Ville Kopra, was tasked with looking into the potential for the expansion of local negotiating.

– This is a failure of sorts. We would have been prepared to extend local negotiating also to unorganized companies, says TEK’s Labour Market Director Teemu Hankamäki.

– The Finnish government should now, in its framework session, have the courage to promote local negotiation for all involved parties in a manner that is balanced and treats companies equally.  Such a solution could open up the possibility to expand generally binding collective bargaining to unorganized companies, reinforce the agreement-based status of shop stewards in these companies via legislation and give employee unions a limited right of action in dispute situations.

Local negotiations are already widely utilised at the workplaces of senior salaried employees.

Hankamäki reminds us that local negotiations are already widely utilised at the workplaces of senior salaried employees. 

– The opportunities for local negotiating are very extensive in the organized sector. In addition to working hours, salaries are also negotiated locally, for example. As for senior salaried employees, the crux of the matter is whether workplaces understand and know how to utilise all the possibilities for local negotiation allowed by the collective agreements.

The situation in the labour market has changed significantly during this spring. Technology Industries Finland announced that it would establish a separate employer association for collective bargaining efforts.

Hankamäki maintains the starting point that the employment terms of TEK members will continue to be decided extensively with national sector-specific collective agreements also in the future.

– By September we will know how many current member companies of Technology Industries Finland will join the new collective bargaining association and thus continue on the path of national negotiations. Our hope is, of course, that as many of them would as possible.

Hankamäki believes that it is also in the best interests of the companies to continue negotiating the employment terms of senior salaried employees in much the usual fashion.

– The level of employment terms in our collective agreements suits the situation of the sectors, the regulations are flexible, extensive local negotiating is already possible and the agreeing parties already exist at the workplaces.

What should an individual TEK member think of the negotiation situation? According to Hankamäki, a TEK member has no reason to worry about the future, but maybe unorganized employees should.

If you wish to ensure your terms of employment, you should belong to a union.

– YTN intends to continue to negotiate comprehensive sector-specific collective agreements. We also have the readiness for company-specific negotiations. We will continue to negotiate the best possible agreements for our members, regardless of how they are negotiated or what their scope is.

According to Hankamäki, the question of union membership is the most important question in the labour market right now. This question is highlighted even further by the changing negotiation position. 

– Negotiations require that as many senior salaried employees belong to the union as possible. When the rate of unionisation is high, agreements on employment terms are made. If you wish to ensure your terms of employment, you should belong to a union.