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Blog: Your life lacks direction

Some of the government’s much-discussed changes to employment legislation aim to increase the employment rate, but also to lower the price of labour. This should be spoken about frankly, and anyone who says otherwise is being economical with the truth.

The effects on the price of labour are mainly indirect when they occur and are realised, for example, through the expansion of local bargaining, shortening the notice period for lay-offs and change negotiation times and the unpaid first day of illness.

During the last six months, the whole of Finland has been interested in these changes, and a huge amount of energy has been spent by both sides promoting and objecting to them. Objection and influence are, of course, the tasks of trade unions, as the changes undermine the status of the employees in many ways. However, I will disappoint all parties by saying that these topics, unfortunately, do not actually answer the question: “Where do we find the resources for growth in Finland?”

In general, companies can compete with the price of labour only to a rather limited extent. It has been forgotten that companies can compete with everything else, such as the quality of products and services, without limits.

Finland’s only possible and pursued direction must be to grow into a nation that produces products and services that make it possible to pay the highest wages in the world for producing them. I admit that this is easier said than done; however, at the moment, I feel we are not actually even trying and the chosen path is actually taking us in the opposite direction. And at least these changes in labour law are not a shortcut to happiness.

It seems that politics are trying to fix something that wasn’t broken. Sixten Korkman recently wrote in Helsingin Sanomat: “The bargaining policy worked well over the last decade. The “Kiky” competitiveness pact improved competitiveness, salary increases were mainly aligned with the export sectors and quite moderate, the additional unemployment allowance until retirement for the unemployed was removed and the pension system was developed in mutual agreement.” It is therefore surprising that the Government considers it necessary to intervene so strongly in terms of employment and also in labour prices.

In fact, I would like to see less politics and more labour market in labour market policy. The current situation reminds me of the lyrics of Anssi Kela’s song: “Your life lacks direction. You always draw the shortest straw. It won’t lead anywhere.”

YTN can contribute to the choice of direction. It is possible that negotiations on the Finnish labour market model will still start, and YTN’s interest is of course to be involved in those negotiations. Especially since YTN is the largest contractual partner in the technology industry in terms of the number of members covered by collective agreements. In any case, the collective agreement negotiations starting in the autumn will measure whether there is still room for negotiation and agreement in Finland.


Teemu Hankamäki
Vice-President, Negotiations Manager

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