Antti Palola: People wanted to have a change and they did get it


Antti Palolas speech in the meeting of the BSLF Steering Committee in STTK 2.6.2015.

I would like to give you a short overview of what’s happening in Finland today. There is a change in the air. Finland had a parliamentary election last April. People wanted to have a change and they did get it. Three biggest parties have now established a new government with Centre party, National Coalition Party and the Finns Party.

Cause STTK is a pluralistic and independent confederation, we want to cooperate with all the governments, with the present one, as well. The government’s program is a tuff one, the plan is to save and cut expenses as follows:

  • 4 milliards as structural changes
  • 4 milliards as savings
  • 2 milliards are conditional cuts depending on decisions that labor market partners are willing to do.

Government wishes to draft a “social contract” between the labour market organizations before 21.8. If we would be succesful, the cuts of two milliard euros would not be needed.
Government also wishes to create a five per cent leap in productivity. This could mean for example to extend the working time by a 100 hours per year. This would amount to two and half weeks extra work without compensation. You can imagine how our members feel about that. Already now many are exhausted. At the same time about 10 % of the workforce is unemployed. I am afraid that the government’s manuscript does not function in practice.

A merger of trade union confederations is being planned in Finland 

Altogether 49 Finnish trade unions presenting 1,7 million members are establishing possibilities to establish a New Confederation in Finland. All the SAK and STTK unions and two Akava unions are involved in this work.

Both SAK and STTK have adopted a very positive view towards the idea, whereas Akava has made it clear that it wants to remain independent.

If the process goes ahead as planned, in the beginning of 2017 SAK and STTK do not exist anymore.

STTK would like to see all the unions under the New Confederation. We also underline the importance of political independence, transparency and pluralism. We need to bring Finnish Trade Union Movement to a new century. Making changes is not easy, but it is necessary.

About the tripartite Baltic Sea Cooperation

STTK has been an active promoter of tripartite cooperation in the Baltic Sea Region. I find that important as well.

It would be very useful to get more forces to join us in order to have a better mandate to speak and lobby in a proper way. How to do that? At least we need to have reasonable and useful statements and proposals. Action Plan on Cross Border Mobility in the Baltic Sea Region is a good example of that. Let’s not forget to lobby it. We also need interesting and useful project activities.

Mobility of labour is the key subject in our work. In order to have better mobility we need many different things. I underline the need for better information, better regulation and a more serious approach to the issue.