Finland: First steps towards creation of a new major peak-level trade union
The process of creating a new peak-level trade union, which was announced in November 2014, has entered the first operational phase. A total of 48 trade unions under the current peak-level organisations the Central Organisation of Finnish Trade Unions SAK and the Finnish Confederation of Professionals STTK have so far joined the project, representing some 1.7 million employees. White-collar organisation Akava - the Confederation of Unions for professional and Managerial Staff has decided to stay out of the cooperation and only a couple of its member unions will join the new organisation.
The new peak-level organisation will in practice replace SAK and STTK. During the coming year, an appointed steering committee will draw up the strategy and formulate the functions of the new union. The merge of the current peak-level unions, with their ideologies and policies, is likely to take time: the aim is that the organisation would be up and running only from the start of 2017. The organisation will be politically impartial. Officially both SAK and STTK are politically independent, but SAK has a history of being closely connected to the Social Democrats and the left wing, while STTK is influenced by both Social Democrats and Conservatives (Bergholm, 2012). The new organisation will take over all of the functions of SAK and STTK, with the aim of presenting a good counterweight to the Confederation of the Finnish Industries EK. Both STTK and (above all) SAK have both seen a decline in members in employment and will thus gain on merging, while Akava has seen a growth in membership. The latter gives its reason for opting to stay out of the merge the continued need for a special organisation for highly educated white-collar employees. The overall objective of the new peak-level organisation is ‘to strengthen financial and emotional well-being of employees and self-employed, and to promote social justice’.