Government and trade unions take “timeout” in dispute

Antti Palola, the chairperson of the Finnish Confederation of Salaried Employees (STTK), says he expects the government to offer trade unions a genuine opportunity to influence the ongoing drafting of a bill to make laying off easier for small businesses.

STTK, the Central Organisation of Finnish Trade Unions (SAK) and the Confederation of Professional and Managerial Staff in Finland (Akava) on Friday voiced their approval of the government's proposal to settle a long-running dispute between over the bill – on the condition that they are invited to participate in finalising the bill.

A number of trade unions also announced they will suspend their industrial actions against the controversial bill after the condition was accepted by the government of Prime Minister Juha Sipilä (Centre).

Palola stated on YLE Radio 1 on Monday that the rationale of the bill is relevant particularly when the termination of an employee is brought before a court of law.

The Finnish government, he added, has described the bill expressly as a means to make laying off employees easier for small businesses and, thereby, to reduce the risks such businesses take when hiring new employees.

“If this is indeed their desire, then they should write the rationale of the provisions accordingly. How far are we willing to go? That’s something that’ll be evaluated by our experts in the negotiations with the government and officials,” said Palola.

“I also want to state it clearly here that if [the rationale] isn’t satisfactory to us, we’ll notify the unions that the conditions for suspending the industrial actions are no longer in place. Our member organisations will then for their part re-evaluate what should be done. This is kind of a timeout to the situation.”

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