Minna Helle is the new National Conciliator

At the moment Minna Helle, 42, is working as the Director of Negotiations and Social Policy at the Finnish Confederation of Professionals STTK. She will take up her new post in January 2015.

She has been working previously as a legal adviser at the Union of Journalists in Finland and as the director for employment relations and social policy both at Tehy, the Union of Health and Social Care Professionals and in Akava, the Confederation of Unions for Professional and Managerial Staff in Finland.

The task of the National Conciliator is to assist the negotiating partners in the conciliation of labour disputes if a collective agreement cannot be reached without outside help. The arbitration system is based on the Act on Mediation in Labour Disputes.

It is compulsory to participate in the mediation of labour disputes but the parties to a dispute do not have to accept the Conciliator’s proposal. However, in some difficult disputes the role of the National Conciliator can be crucial.

In order to make the conciliation process possible the labour market parties must give two weeks notice concerning the commencement or extension of a work stoppage arising from a labour dispute.

Complicated appointment process

Usually the National Conciliator is appointed in turn from among those candidates proposed by trade unions or employers’ organisations. This time there was a disagreement as to whether it is employees or employers turn. Finally the employers accepted that it is time for the trade unions to take up the reins.

Minna Helle was the candidate of choice for the STTK and SAK, Central Organizations of Finnish Trade Unions. But Akava opposed Minna Helle in favour of Harri Hietala, who has had a long career in EK, the Confederation of Finnish Industries and other employers’ unions.

The majority of employers’ EK, however, supported Minna Helle over Harri Hietala. In particular the powerful Federation of Finnish Technology were against Hietala’s appointment.

In this confusing situation the Minister of Labour, former chairperson of SAK Lauri Ihalainen proposed Minna Helle and she was thereby appointed.

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