The three Finnish trade union confederations have a joint office in Brussels, Finunions. Now one of the three, Akava, has decided to end its cooperation.
Finunions has been representing the Finnish trade union movement in Brussels since 1991. The office has two employees. The director’s vacancy is filled for two years periods, alternately by all three confederations.
The board of Akava, the Confederation of Unions for Professional and Managerial Staff in Finland decided on 21 September that their participation in the Finunions venture does not correspond to the goals and actions setout in Akava’s strategy.
According to Akava Chairperson Sture Fjäder, Akava has been, for some time now, handling much of their EU lobbying through direct contacts and through international organisations. The office in Brussels is no longer needed. Akava had been contributing 109 000 euros per year to help run Finunions.
Sture Fjäder says that the decision was not unanimous. According to the media, votes at the Akava board were 13 for leaving Finunions and 7 for continuing cooperation.
Pekka Ristelä, Director of Finunions informed the Finnish news agency STT that the decision had come as a surprise. According to him Akava had given no indication of its dissatisfaction in the meetings of the board of directors.
Akava is also considering withdrawing from the Labour Institute for Economic Research which is a trade union movement research organisation founded in 1971 and now employing 16 people.
It is mainly financed by the three trade union confederations, Akava, the Finnish Confederation of Professionals STTK and the Central Organization of Finnish Trade Unions SAK.
SAK Chairperson Jarkko Eloranta says Akava’s decision to withdraw from Finunions is unfortunate as it will diminish joint resources.
Antti Palola, STTK Chairperson says he is disappointed at the Akava decision. He wonders why Akava wish to cease cooperation at such a critical period in time – one of crucial importance affecting all aspects of working life.
Both Eloranta and Palola say that in this new situation traditional cooperation between trade union confederations must be re-evaluated. But there is no need to overstate one instance, Eloranta stresses.