STTK proposes a 35-hour week

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The Finnish Confederation of Salaried Employees (STTK) has recently begun discussions about the next incomes policy agreement by proposing a reduction in working time.

The STTK proposal is that working time should be cut by 12.5% without any reduction in pay. According to the chair of STTK, Esa Swanljung, the proposal for a reduction in working time was not meant to be a hard negotiation stance for the forthcoming negotiations on the new incomes policy agreement to start in 1998, but more an opening posture for discussion. STTK intends to discuss its proposal with the Central Organisation of Finnish Trade Unions (SAK).

STTK estimates that half of the reduction in working hours would be offset by increased productivity and the other half by the recruitment of new employees. STTK has made a rough calculation of the impact of the reduction and has estimated that were the proposal to be implemented, it would 100,000 new jobs.

Discussions with SAK will be accelerated because such a reduction in working time is seen by STTK as an effective cure for the problem of unemployment. The employers have rejected this view. The Confederation of Finnish Industry and Employers (TT) has stated that such a reduction in working time would have the opposite effect. The Central Organisation of Professional Associations (AKAVA) suspects that shorter working time would lead to a tighter working schedule.

This issue may well become a matter of contention at the negotiation table. However, it is not yet clear whether or not all employees' organisations have the same views about reducing working time.

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