Health care and public services unions demand a targeted pay rise and a ten-year salary programme


Tehy and JHL, the unions in the field of health care and public services demand a targeted pay rise in the forthcoming collective bargaining round. This would to a large extent be a gender equality allowance as the workforce in these sectors is primarily made up of women.

In the last collective bargaining round the agreement for the technology industry gave a 3.2 per cent pay rise as part of a two year agreement. Due to the employers’ strict coordination this become the basis for almost all collective agreements.

Tehy – The Union of Health and Social Care Professionals in Finland propose a ten-year salary programme for health and social care professionals. It would offer an annual 1.8 percentage point higher pay rise as in the male-dominated technology industry sectors.

This would cost the municipalities 100 – 150 million euro per year. The Union is demanding money for this in the state budget.

There are 320.000 people with the education and training for health care but an estimated 40.000 of these working in another branch, Tehy claims. Many of these people would be ready to return to work in health care if the salary was more attractive. At the same time demand for professional staff is growing as the population gets older.

“Political decision makers can still make decisions based on values in order to prevent the threatening crisis” says Millariikka Rytkönen, Tehy President.

She also points out that the price tag of Tehy’s programme is just a fraction of the cost of the planned 64 fighter plane purchase. That will cost far more than 10 billion euro.

“What do we need more: nurses or fighter planes?” Rytkönen asks.

Tehy has also announced it is terminating the General Collective Agreement for Municipal Personnel (KVTES) from the end of March 2020. This will make it possible to begin industrial action in April 2020.

Tehy has more than 160.000 members and is the biggest union within the Finnish Confederation of Professionals STTK. Women make up 91.7 per cent of Tehy members.

The pay gap must be bridged

JHL – The Trade Union for the Public and Welfare Sectors say that the sectors with low incomes must get higher pay rises as enjoyed by the technology sector. The Union published, at the end of September, its goals for the next collective bargaining negotiations.

“Low-pay sectors need higher pay increases than industrial sectors in order to bridge the pay gap. This is also a matter of equality. The majority of JHL’s members work in sectors where the workforce is primarily made up of women. They have accelerated Finland’s economic growth for years with moderate pay agreements. Now is the time for a pay rise”, insists JHL President Päivi Niemi-Laine.

The Union also makes it clear that the time for unpaid working hours is over. JHL demands that the 24 extra annual unpaid working hours included in the national Competitiveness Pact be removed from the next collective agreement. If not, the extra hours must be compensated appropriately.

JHL also demands that zero-hours contracts must be agreed on in any collective agreements. These contracts continue to be misused, and employees are suffering as a result.

Both Tehy and JHL presidents say that the unions are ready to take industrial action, if necessary.
The JHL major collective agreements will run for the most part at the end of March 2020. The collective bargaining to renew these agreements will start this autumn.

JHL has some 200.000 members and some 70 per cent of these are women. It is the third largest union in the SAK, the Central Organisation of Finnish Trade Unions.

Helsinki (10.10.2019 – Heikki Jokinen)

Read more:
Employers’ ironclad coordination remains steadfast during the latest round of collective bargaining (23.03.2018)