Helsinki (29.11.2019 – Heikki Jokinen) A new collective agreement for postal workers ends the escalating strike wave.
The employer agreed to move 700 workers back to their previous collective agreement which is negotiated by the Finnish Post and Logistics Union PAU and employers association Palta. And they quickly reached a new collective agreement.
The core issue at the root of the dead-locked negotiations was the fate of 700 workers employed at postal service company Posti’s parcel sorting offices.
Posti, the employer, decided, unilaterally, to transfer these employees to their subsidiary, Posti Palvelut, and in doing so, to another collective agreement of the Industrial Union. According to PAU, this would have meant a cut, in practice, of up to 30 per cent of their pay.
The situation became dead-locked, as Posti refused to reverse their decision to transfer their parcel sorting staff to its subsidiary.
Posti Palvelut was now a member of the media employers, the Finnish Media Federation – which refused to negotiate on a company level agreement based on the PAU collective agreement for Posti Palvelut, despite the fact that their member company Posti Palvelut was in favour of this.
This has generally been viewed as a paradox, as employers in Finland continuously demand and are united in their call for more local agreements at company level. But when faced with an opportunity to do just this and overcome a perennial impasse the media employers refused.
At the same time the solidarity strikes spread. The transport unions were noticeably active, but also many other unions showed their support against moving employees to other collective agreements offering less pay, so called agreement shopping.
Finally, Medialiitto agreed that the 700 workers in Posti parcel sorting offices can return to the PAU and Palta collective agreement. This broke the dead-lock and the postal workers collective agreement was soon in place.
At the same time the ongoing and forthcoming solidarity strikes were cancelled. The Posti strike that began on 11 November is now over.
Heidi Nieminen, the PAU President stresses that the struggle for the 700 workers was not about principles. “I just wanted that their pay and conditions of work were maintained. They are still low-paid people, and I am satisfied that we were able to secure what they have had before.”
Riku Aalto, the President of the Industrial Union is satisfied with the resolution and says that his union was working actively for this agreement. Posti moved the 700 people in parcel sorting offices to one of the Industrial Union’s collective agreements. Now this move has been cancelled and the employees will return to the PAU agreement.
The Trade Union for the Public and Welfare Sectors JHL was one of the unions supporting the postal workers with sympathy strikes. Päivi Niemi-Laine, JHL President is happy the dispute has ended in agreement.
“Sympathy strikes clearly gave a push to the negotiations”, she says and expresses her gratitude to all JHL members who supported the Posti employees.