20.6.2023 12:10

SY: Gov’t programme understands business needs

The Government Programme will promote local bargaining, ease fixed-term contracts and terminations on personal grounds, tackle illegal strikes, and reform social security.

“Businesses’ and the labour market’s needs have been understood. Non-confederated employers and non-unionized employees have long been discriminated against in labour legislation. Now this will see a change which our association has long lobbied for,” Vice President Janne Makkula of Suomen Yrittäjät, the Finnish SME association, says.

Makkula says that the emphasis is firmly on easing employment.

“It will take time before the decisions translate into better employment figures. That’s why the reforms need to be placed before Parliament right at the start of this Government’s term. A long, extensive tripartite preparation is unnecessary,” Makkula says.

Even though collective agreements have allowed local bargaining, the statutory prohibitions on bargaining have until now left companies which are not part of the employer confederations unable to use these flexibilities.

“In addition, the bargaining opportunities have often been restricted by a so-called shop steward lock, meaning only a unionized employee could be a party to the agreement,” Makkula says.

Under the Government Programme, the prohibitions on local bargaining that apply to companies not part of employer confederations and which observe generally binding collective agreements will be removed from labour legislation. A shop steward, non-union elected representative, other representative elected by the personnel or the entire personnel may be party to the agreement. In other words, the “shop steward lock” will be removed.

“We have long advocated for equity and demanded the abolition of bargaining prohibitions. This policy is extremely welcome and important,” Makkula says.

Lower threshold for change negotiations to rise

In future, only companies which employ at least 50 employees will have to conduct change negotiations. The current threshold is 20 employees. The minimum duration of change locations will be halved.

“Bureaucracy will be reduced when small businesses are freed from the obligations of the Cooperation Act. Studies show that small businesses have good working conditions, trust and communication. Good cooperation is extremely important, but legislation should not be used to fix cooperation in a single mould,” Makkula says.

Read more articles about the Government Programme here.

Big steps towards competitor countries

Makkula says that in its labour legislation, Finland is taking significant steps towards its major competitor countries.

“For example, Germany in its day eased terminations on personal grounds, made the use of fixed-term contracts more flexible, and significantly increased the opportunities for local bargaining. Those reforms had a big effect on Germany’s employment figures,” Makkula says.

“Finland isn’t going that far, but we are still taking measures that we haven’t been capable of taking in this country before. Our association is very happy with this,” Makkula says.