Early on Monday morning the last obstacle
on the road to the acceptance of a new labour market framework agreement was
overcome. Then the trade union of transport drivers and port workers AKT and
its employer counterpart agreed on details on how to apply the framework
agreement, approved in October by the labour market confederations.
And so, the same morning these various confederations concluded that support
for the agreement is broad enough to take effect. At noon the government
announced that it had come to the same conclusion.
This means that all public sector employees and 91 per cent of the private
sector employees are now covered for the next two years (or 25 months) by the
regulations agreed upon in the framework agreement. Both union leaders and
government representatives have characterized the comprehensive settlement’s
overwhelming reach as a historic achievement.
Trade union leaders emphasize that the agreement significantly increases the
predictability of the economy and effectively defends the purchasing power of
workers and salaried employees. The agreement also brings qualitative
improvements to several hundred collective agreements, updated on the basis of
the framework agreement.
Employee groups that are not covered by agreements applying the framework
agreement include the construction and food workers and a third of senior
salaried employees. The Construction Trade Union let it be known on October 17
that it is not prepared to negotiate on the basis of the framework agreement.
In the food industry, employers were not willing to negotiate on how to apply
the framework agreement as the agreements, signed in May 2010, are still in
force until March 2014.
As for the third group, senior salaried employees (circa 70,000 persons), the
situation remains more problematic. From the trade union side the employers are
entirely to blame for why this set of employees are not covered by the
framework agreement. These employees have not yet managed to obtain any kind of
collective agreements to provide them with job and other security as their
employers have always totally rejected proposals for collective bargaining on
their senior salaried employees’ working conditions.
Helsinki 28.11.2011, by Juhani Artto