The position of those with zero-hours contract must be improved during the next round of collective bargaining, insists the Central Organisation of Finnish Trade Unions SAK.

This year there will be no national labour market pact — the unions will negotiate individually their own collective agreements. A large number of collective agreements will be negotiated this autumn.

However, SAK have prepared qualitative goals for the collective agreements. SAK published these in August. The goals are common for all the SAK member unions, but the unions are free to adopt various methods to work towards reaching them.

The goals are divided into four groups. In the first category we find the goal to improve the situation of those with zero-hour contracts. SAK also wants to limit the use of such contracts.

SAK says that the employment contract must always include the number of working hours, and this cannot be zero. The collective agreements could also set minimum working hours for part time work.

SAK proposes that collective agreements should set a limit on how big a share of employees can be temporarily or part time employed or used as hired labour.

If an employee works for a certain period of time permanently more hours than written into the employment contract, it should be corrected.

The second group of SAK goals are connected with training at workplaces. The rules should be updated, SAK stresses.

The third group of SAK goals are connected to how to better match work and other parts of life. There is a need for a broader flexibility to take care of an ill family member and to allow employees' the possibility to influence their own working time.

Paid parental leave must be longer than now, SAK insists. It also sees it as crucially important to have better possibilities to do part time work when it is necessary, for instance, to take care of one's parents.

The fourth group of goals deals with local company level bargaining. SAK wants to have more local bargaining instead of the unilateral dictatorial approach by the employer. There are many areas where this can be done, like the bonus systems, rules on how to offer extra work that exceeds the daily working hours and flexibility of work to accommodate various situations that may arise in life.

Genuine local bargaining demands striking a better balance between the parties. The rights and possibilities of shop stewards must be improved, SAK demands.

SAK has 20 member unions representing industry, public sector, transport and private services. These unions, in all, have 966,000 members.

Heikki Jokinen