White-collar unions merge

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In May 2001, four trade unions affiliated to Finland's STTK white-collar confederation merged to form the Union of Salaried Employees (TU). With 130,000 members, TU is the country's fourth largest union.

In May 2001, four member trade unions of the Finnish Confederation of Salaried Employees (Toimihenkilökeskusjärjestö, STTK) - the Union of Technical Employees (Teknisten Liitto, TL), the Union of Salaried Employees (Suomen Teollisuustoimihenkilöiden Liitto, STL) and the Swedish Association of Technicians and Foremen (Svenska Tekniska Funktionärsförbundet, STAF) - merged to form the Union of Salaried Employees (Toimihenkilöunioni, TU). This new white-collar union, with 130,000 members, is the country's fourth largest union and STTK's largest affiliate.

The aim of the merger is to end the overlap between the four unions' functions and to achieve more influence. The process involves a merger of the four unions' unemployment insurance funds and regional offices. A majority of the members of the merged union are men, while the sector with greatest representation in TU is metalworking, where over one-third of the members work.

The merger continues the trend toward unification among Finnish unions. In January 2001, the country's second largest union was formed by the merger of four (blue-collar) service sector unions affiliated to the Central Organisation of Finnish Trade Unions (Suomen Ammattiliittojen Keskusjärjestö, SAK), to create Service Unions United (Palvelualojen Ammattiliitto, PAM) (FI0101172N). Now it is the turn of the salaried employees' unions. Mergers have also recently also been under discussion in terms of the central union confederations, though nothing concrete has occurred at this level. The Finnish union movement has hitherto been relatively dispersed and characterised by competition for members between unions. Now, the unions seem to be aiming at structural cooperation, which will arguably be a prerequisite for looking after members' interests now that the latter task is becoming more demanding.

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