International SAK

The fundamental rights of workers must be respected globally. This is the prime objective of international work by the trade union movement.
ETUC Action Day in Brussels in March 2013. Photo: Sanni Halla-aho

The Central Organisation of Finnish Trade Unions SAK is affiliated to the following international organisations:

European co-operation

Helping to prepare Directives and agreements on minimum terms and conditions of employment in the European Union is an important part of the work of SAK. Improvements in labour legislation in Finland increasingly begin in European legislative processes leading to reforms in the various Member States.

Accords negotiated by the  EU level labour market organisations may also be approved as European Union Directives in a process known as the European social dialogue.

The following agreements have been negotiated under the social dialogue process to date:

EU social dialogue agreements

The European social dialogue process has also led to agreements on action programmes for developing lifelong skills and qualifications (2002), promoting equality between men and women (2005) and promoting youth employment (2013).

The European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC)

The trade union movement is represented in European collective bargaining by the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC). The Finnish national labour confederations SAK, STTK and Akava are all affiliated to this organisation. The ETUC also lobbies policymakers at the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers, and seeks to ensure that the trade union movement is represented on various European Union advisory bodies.

The ETUC represents the interests of about 45 million employees organised in trade unions belonging to 90 national labour confederations in 39 European countries. It is headquartered in Brussels and incorporates the work of the European Trade Union Institute (ETUI), including research, training and work environment questions.

European Economic and Social Committee (EESC)

The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) advises the European Union on labour and other issues. It comprises representatives of employers, employees and the self-employed, together with other members speaking on behalf of general social interests such as those of consumers and environmental organisations. SAK, STTK and Akava are represented on the EESC in the same way as their employer organisation counterparts.

FinUnions: a mission of organised labour to the European Union

SAK and STTK maintain a permanent joint mission to the European Union in Brussels. FinUnions lobbies for the interests of Finnish employees and keeps organisations in Finland informed of the activities and decisions of the European Union.

FinUnions works with Finnish trade unions to monitor the progress of labour market issues in European Union institutions and to maintain regular relations with policymakers. It also works with the ETUC and the Brussels-based representatives of national trade union organisations.

Global co-operation

Economic globalisation is an ongoing challenge for the international trade union movement, and defending the fundamental human and trade union rights defined by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) is a crucial part of the movement’s international efforts.

The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC)

SAK is a member of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), which represents the interests of 181 million employees organised under 340 affiliates in 163 countries and regions.

The ITUC works with trade unions and global stakeholders such as the World Trade Organisation (WTO), the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The ITUC also has close ties to international secretariats operating in various sectors and to the Trade Union Advisory Committee to the OECD (TUAC). It also collaborates closely with the ILO and maintains links to many other UN agencies.

TUAC: the Trade Union Advisory Committee to the OECD

The Trade Union Advisory Committee to the OECD (TUAC) brings the point of view of organised labour to the attention of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, and also advises the organisation’s various committees and Member States. SAK is a member of TUAC.

The International Labour Organisation (ILO)

The ILO seeks to promote social justice and the internationally recognised human rights of workers, to improve the status and working conditions of employees throughout the world, and to develop international legislative standards for labour.

The ILO is the only UN agency that operates on a tripartite basis, including the participation in policymaking of trade union and employer representatives on an equal footing with national governments.

The Conventions and Recommendations of the ILO now form an international body of legislative standards for labour, with a total of some 400 ILO instruments. Finland has ratified 102 ILO Conventions, and these have had a substantial impact on Finnish labour legislation.

The Trade Union Solidarity Centre of Finland (SASK)

The Trade Union Solidarity Centre of Finland (SASK) promotes fundamental labour rights and seeks to improve conditions for free and democratic trade union work in various countries. This work mainly takes the form of implementing various development projects.

SASK also works in Finland to ensure that issues of labour rights, development and solidarity are kept on the agenda of national debate.

Its members include SAK and STTK, together with 33 trade unions affiliated to these confederations and to Akava.

Co-operation in Northern Europe

Nearly all of the labour confederations in the Nordic countries belong to the Council of Nordic Trade Unions (NFS), which lobbies on Nordic economic and social policy issues and co-ordinates trade union strategy. From Finland, SAK and STTK are members of the NFS.

Various networks also provide a platform for co-operation in Northern Europe:

The Baltic Sea Trade Union Network (BASTUN) unites labour confederations in all of the countries surrounding the Baltic Sea.

The Baltic Sea Labour Forum (BSLF) promotes labour market co-operation in the Baltic Sea region with a view to improving networking between labour market organisations, politicians and national stakeholders.