AKAVA aims at wide-ranging incomes policy agreement

Download article in original language : FI9909119NFI.DOC

Finland's current two-year national incomes policy agreement expires in January 2000. The AKAVA trade union confederation, which represents professional staff, announced in September 1999 that it is seeking a new wide-ranging, two-year incomes policy solution which will strengthen the Finnish economy, promote employment and "coping" at work, and safeguard the positive development in employees' purchasing power of recent years.

In September 1999, the Confederation of Unions for Academic Professionals (Akateemisten Toimihenkilöiden Keskusjärjestö, AKAVA) declared its intention to seek a wide-ranging, two-year incomes policy deal, once the current agreement (FI9801145F) expires in January 2000.

According to AKAVA, its position is supported by the positive experiences of the last two incomes policy rounds (FI9909118F). Employment and employees' purchasing power have improved, and Finland's competitiveness has remained good. Furthermore, an incomes policy agreement will enable wage and tax solutions to be dovetailed in the best way so that there are improved incentives to work and to provide work. In addition, core public services (education and healthcare) and an equitable development of net earnings can best be safeguarded through a centralised incomes policy, the organisation claims.

AKAVA has announced three goals for an incomes policy agreement:

  1. the agreement must safeguard in a sustainable way core services in the municipal sector;
  2. pay rises for the public sector must be budgeted for separately; and
  3. senior staff must obligatorily receive agreed salary increases, irrespective of whether they are covered by a binding collective agreement.

AKAVA emphasises that the overall solution should include reforms of working life - such as steps to promote "coping" at work (FI9811182F), as well as developments of the shop steward system whereby equitable local bargaining processes can be safeguarded. As for improving "coping", proposed methods include new working time arrangements - such as comprehensive application of working time legislation and the development of longer periods of leave, such as a sabbatical leave system (FI9709131N) and individually agreed leave arrangements, with the aid of a working time "bank" and a sabbatical leave fund. Coping at work can, it is said, be promoted by developing personnel policy at the workplace - for instance, by preventing the misuse of fixed-term employment relationships and by ensuring that the workforce is appropriate in quantity and quality in relation to the tasks to be performed. In addition, maintenance of employees' capacity to work and lifelong learning should be promoted, declares AKAVA in its policy statement.

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