Finnish union confederations: EU has to respect the freedom of collective bargaining

Experts from the three union confederations in Finland (Akava, SAK, STTK) have delivered harsh criticism to the European Union for repeatedly breaching the freedom of collective bargaining. They refer to recent cases where the European Commission has intervened in the bargaining procedures in Romania, Greece, Spain, Ireland and Italy and weakened the position of unions.

This criticism is included in a 26-page discussion paper published on 26 April by experts from the three confederations. The paper will be published in English at a later date.

The intention here – by bringing out this paper – is to influence or have a decided impact on the Finnish government which is preparing a report for Parliament on EU and EMU matters and the European Council which is due to draw up, in June, a “road map” on how to develop the European Union and the European Monetary Union.

So naturally, respect for the autonomy of labour market organizations is one of the central demands in the paper. The experts also want a stronger role for labour market organizations in the process where euro zone’s economic policy is formulated. According to them, one way of moving in this direction would be by establishing a macro economy dialogue.

Union organizations have supported strong coordination of economic policy, the experts reiterate. As to the current situation they propose that timetables for reaching finance policy goals in countries where financing deficits is not difficult be eased slightly.

The experts stress that union organizations do not support further development of the economic and monetary union without conditions. One precondition for their support is an expansion of the EMU’s social dimension. The experts find fault with the European Commission for failing to exercise its right to take initiatives in recent years. The creation of new legislation must once again become the principal way of developing European working life, the experts maintain. They insist that all EU Member States, including Great Britain and Poland, must approve the document that defines citizen’s basic rights.

Helsinki (06.05.2013 – Juhani Artto)

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