SAK unions intensify their cooperation in collective bargaining

Unions belonging to SAK are intensifying their cooperation in the ongoing collective bargaining round. The reason behind this is the total logjam in private sector collective bargaining as the employers are unwilling to agree to anything before a deal in the technology industry is struck.

SAK, the Central Organisation of Finnish Trade Unions says this also entails organisational cooperation, if necessary, to reach results in collective bargaining.

“The unions’ boards decide on the practical actions, but the goal is to get a deal that gives a negotiating result comparable with the one reached in Germany for the industry”. SAK President Jarkko Eloranta says.

He refers to the recent deal hammered out by IG Metall for the German electronics and metal industry. This deal awards a 5.2 per cent pay rise from June 2023 and another 3.3 per cent from May 2024. On top of that there will be two 1 500 euro lump sum payments.

Announcing the desired target in respect of a pay rise, in advance, is quite unusual in Finland.

Announcing the desired target in respect of a pay rise, in advance, is quite unusual in Finland, though it is common in many other countries. Negotiations will be hard, as according to various sources, the employers have so far been offering around a two per cent pay rise with a one-year agreement.

In practical terms, the announcement of the SAK unions means that they will not leave the Industrial Union to stand alone, though the employers are at the moment negotiating seriously only with it.

With SAK leaving the form of support open, this may result in industrial action being taken in various fields. Indeed this becomes increasingly likely, given the employers’ consistent refusal to engage in collective bargaining in practically the entire private sector means that existing deals will soon expire. Thus, the obligation to ensure industrial peace will end, also.

SAK is keen to respond to the very tight cooperation of the employers’ associations. To answer that, a broader coalition of unions is needed, as well.

Jorma Malinen, President of Trade Union Pro, supports the SAK decision, too. “Union cooperation and joint goals support members’ purchasing power and are especially needed at this time, when collective bargaining seems not to be moving forward at all”, he says. Trade Union Pro is a member of another trade union confederation, the Finnish Confederation of Professionals STTK.

Helsinki 15.12.2022 – Heikki Jokinen

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