Antti Palola: Exceptional circumstances show the value of cooperation


We are living through a very exceptional societal situation. The pandemic is spreading, people are falling ill – and unfortunately perishing, too. The crisis calls for actions and decisions to be taken without delay, based on the best information available. The acute corona crisis has blown away the basis of the framework for the Finnish economy and the budgetary rules of the EU. Solving the crisis must be our first priority. The time for ex post evaluation of the decisions and for paying their final bill is later. We can and indeed must learn from every crisis for the future’s sake.

Political decision makers and officials are now busy controlling the situation that evolves from day to day and hour to hour. The upcoming weeks will show how the restrictions on movement introduced in Finland will affect the progress of the disease. The situation is extremely serious globally, in Europe and in Finland, but panic will help no one. The need for European and global cooperation has seldom been as great as during this spring. It is important that we keep it working and are committed, for our part, to solve this crisis together. The exceptional circumstances make the value of cooperation evident.

Over the last months, Finnish trade unions have negotiated on collective labour agreements, including those for civil servants. The round of negotiations has been difficult, and for some it still continues. The biggest challenges include the long negotiation period, abolition of the gratuitous extension of working time (the so-called “kiky” hours) that is the legacy of the competitiveness pact, and the changing economic situation. The situation would have been challenging even without the corona crisis.

Finnish trade unions contribute to safeguard business activities, employment and livelihood

In an extremely tight schedule, Finnish trade unions negotiated a motion to the Finnish government to safeguard business activities, employment and livelihood in the economic crisis caused by the corona virus. New means were also incorporated, such as the unemployment security for micro entrepreneurs and the self-employed that was introduced in the face of the crisis. The Finnish government has shown great appreciation of the package. The difficult situation unites people.

The government measures will be in effect for three months. We hope that the answers found will contribute to decreasing bankruptcies and to having as many people as possible keep their jobs and livelihoods.

A great many of the members of STTK are now in the front lines through their work, taking care of citizens’ lives, health and safety. Many of them are also in broader terms making sure that things still work smoothly in our everyday lives. Even more people will have important roles after the crisis when life will return to what we call normal. It is, after all, people who uphold society both during and after the crisis. We do not yet know when life will return to normal or what the world will look like then, but I believe that many things will have changed in our daily lives, in our thinking and appreciation after this crisis.