The Finnish Government has turned its back on the tripartite cooperation

The Finnish Government has in practise ended any tripartite consensus when drafting legislation, according to the Central Organisation of Finnish Trade Unions SAK.
07.06.2018 17:45
Finnish Government at a press conference after announcing amendments to current labour legislation in April. Photo: Lauri Heikkinen / Prime Minister's Office

Tripartite negotiations and agreements have long been a well-established way to resolve major social issues. Governments have, until now, been able to use the knowledge of all parties and engage them in a concerted effort to tackle issues in a practical way and reach common agreement, SAK says.

Thus, tripartite negotiations have, for decades, been the birthplace of many major social reforms. Some recent examples are the national pact for employment and growth in 2015 with ultra moderate pay rises and reform of the pension system in 2014. With genuine tripartite participation it was possible to make changes without political and social turbulence.

Jarkko Eloranta

"Instead of real tripartite negotiations the Government is now inviting labour market parties to sign up to ready made proposals often made by hastily appointed ideological working groups who wash over the complexities of the issues at hand and fail to do an evaluation of the impacts", says Jarkko Eloranta, SAK President.

The labour market organisations are being used as a fig leaf just so as to claim that the Government has been drafting legislation in conjunction with them, Eloranta adds.

Antti Palola, President of the Finnish Confederation of Professionals STTK expressed similar concerns at the STTK Council meeting in May. He said that now the Government is using a "new" tripartite process whereby it goes ahead with proposals regardless of whether there is a mutual understanding with the labour market parties or not.

The consequences of this might be, Palola warned, that we will once again see protests and in the worst case scenario even strikes. "This development is worthy of serious thought especially when one feels they have all the power", Palola said to the Government.

New law amendments in the pipeline

The SAK Executive Board will have an extra meeting at the end of June to see whether any organisational measures are necessary.

The Government is now preparing several important amendments to current labour legislation. The Government announced in April that it will weaken the employment security of unemploeyd persons under 30 years of age and ease the criteria for individual dismissals in businesses employing less than 20 people.

These plans caused alarm in the trade unions, but so far the Government has been inviting labour market parties just to listen to what changes are planned, not to participate.

"The Government will not consider the practical experience we have from working places. The proposals include major risks of discrimination against young people and an increase in unjustified dismissals", SAK President Jarkko Eloranta says.

"The only conclusion we can draw is that the legislation will still be passed during this Government term despite the all too superficial and unilateral drafting."

Heikki Jokinen, free lancer