In January 2014 Pekka Ristelä will become the new director of the FinUnions office in Brussels. FinUnions is the EU office of the Finnish trade union confederations SAK, STTK and Akava. It looks after the interests of Finnish employees and represents more than two million members who belong to the three confederations.
And what are the immediate tasks and concerns awaiting Ristelä in Brussels?
"Elections to the European Parliament are now just half a year away and we will also get a new European Commission. The Commission’s programme for the next five years is important, as it will set the main policy lines to follow", Ristelä says.
The programme is especially relevant as the Commission has up to now been very passive when it comes to working life issues. The Commission is currently working with REFIT (Regulatory Fitness and Performance Programme).
Under REFIT the "EU legislation is systematically reviewed to see if aims are being met in the most efficient and effective way, to detect regulatory burdens and to identify opportunities for simplification", according to the Commission’s own web page.
"There is a danger that working life regulations are seen as a hindrance to free competition. For us the case is the opposite, the dumping of work is the real problem and danger", Ristelä points out.
"Another similar question concerns occupational health and safety. There are different views as to whether this is something that should be seen as a burden for Europe or something that could be to our advantage and strength."
Ristelä has been working in SAK since 2006 with responsibility for international affairs. He has a master's degree in political science. The director’s job in Brussels is for a three year period. Ristelä is also one of the nine Finnish members of the European Economic and Social Committee.
Marianne Muona is the outgoing FinUnions Director. The director is appointed in turn from one of the three confederations which form FinUnions.