Working conditions and social dialogue — Finland:

  • Observatory: EurWORK
  • Topic:
  • Published on: 02 April 2008



About
Country:
Finland
Author:
Sutela
Institution:

Disclaimer: This information is made available as a service to the public but has not been edited or approved by the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions. The content is the responsibility of the authors.

The Finnish social dialogue concerning working conditions is a natural part of the operation of social partners, and it is strongly based on the long tradition of national incomes policy agreement system. This co-operation of social partners has produced several extensive tripartite development programmes (like the Well-Being at Work Programme 2000-2003 and the Working Life Development Programme TYKES 2004-2009) related to the development of working conditions. The social partners consider that the open dialogue and open handling of disagreements and the aspiration to find joint interest is characteristic of the Finnish social dialogue.

A. Mapping of existing research and administrative reports

Please limit your answers to this first section on mapping (questions 1 to 3) to 2,500 words.

Please identify the most relevant research in your country that identifies and / or analyses the relationship between working conditions and social dialogue. This could include surveys that look at working conditions in sectors/enterprises with and without collective agreements. Please note that we are only interested in research where a relationship between working conditions and social dialogue is discussed, rather than just statistics on collective agreements. Please examine recent research, ideally since 2000.

1. Surveys

Present a summary of the survey(s), its findings and methodology, including any caveats about the research

Present, where relevant, the exact wording of the questions that address the relationship between working conditions and social dialogue

This section could also include secondary analyses based on survey data

Is there a predominance of cases or more information available in certain sectors? Are any particular issues emerging? Has any monitoring or evaluation been carried out?

In this part of the response we are concentrating on the ‘maintenance of work ability’ (MWA), a Finnish concept more or less similar to the internationally better known term of ‘workplace health promotion’. According to the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health (FIOH), MWA refers to “joint measures taken by employers, employees and workplace organisations in order to promote and support the work ability and functioning capabilities of all workers at every stage of their careers”. The social partners gave a recommendation for MWA activities in 1989. In 1999, the Advisory Board for Occupational Health Services of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health defined that “…The central goals in the practical measures taken at a workplace to maintain employees’ work ability are development of work and the work environment, improvement of the work community and work organisation, and promotion of the employees’ health and professional competence. The point of departure is that all parties of the work community and workplace commit themselves to, and participate and co-operate in, as well as have a possibility to influence the measures taken at the workplace within occupational health and safety work or other activities aimed at the promotion and maintenance of work ability…”

Today, the legal basis for the MWA is to be found in the Occupational Health Care Act from 2001 and the Occupational Health and Safety Act from 2002. At individual workplaces, MWA groups are responsible for the planning, supporting and carrying out of the activities. These groups typically consist of representatives from the business management, human resources management, personnel, and occupational safety and occupational health services.

In order to measure the prevalence and contents of, as well as attitudes to and outcomes of, MWA activities at workplaces, the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health (FIOH) together with the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health has conducted MWA Barometers in 1998, 2001 and 2004. The next Barometer is planned for the year 2008.

The MWA Barometers are telephone interviews with a sample of some 1,000 private and public sector workplaces. At each workplace, the aim is to conduct three interviews with slightly different questionnaires, of which one is addressed to a representative of the management, one to a representative of the personnel and one to a representative of the occupational health service. Each MWA Barometer involves some 800 workplaces with over 2,200 persons interviewed.

The responses of the three different respondent groups differ slightly from each other. In 2004, the views of employers and occupational health service units were quite unanimous when reporting prevalence of extensive MWA activities at the workplace (82% and 78%), while employees had observed such activities to a less extent (67%). Small companies had fewer activities than large workplaces. Extensive MWA activities were most commonly reported in the state sector. Half of the representatives of employees (51%) and occupational health services (49%) still considered that there were not enough MWA activities, while 37 per cent of employers shared this view.

According to employers, the three most common MWA activities put in action were i) physical exercise activities, ii) other recreational services and iii) development of professional skills. According to the personnel, these were i) physical exercise, ii) recreational activities and iii) improvement in occupational safety, work hygiene and ergonomics. Health service personnel also considered physical exercise the most common activity, but after that came ii) improvement in occupational safety, work hygiene and ergonomics and iii) rehabilitation activities.

In 2004, about half of the respondents (employers 58%, employees 51%, health services 43%) considered that the activities were sufficiently diversified and about 80 per cent (employers 85%, employees 77%) regarded the quality of the activities as good or quite good. Analyses of personnel’s needs for MWA activities have increased from 1998. In 2004, 86 per cent of employers, 75 per cent of employees and 76 per cent of occupational health service representatives thought that MWA activities served the needs of all employees at least quite well.

At least two thirds of respondents also reported that the attitudes towards MWA activities were positive at their workplace, and about 90 per cent believed that MWA activities were beneficial for their workplace. The cost benefit was considered at least quite good by some 90 per cent of respondents. The effectiveness of MWA activities was regularly evaluated at about half of the workplaces (employers 48%, employees 46%, health service personnel 50%) in 2004.

The respondents have also been asked about the perceived outcomes of and reasons for MWA activities at their workplace, as follows:

Would you tell me why there are MWA activities at your workplace?

What would you consider the effects of MWA activities are at your workplace?

Both these questions are open-ended and the responses are coded against a coding list of 13 (reasons) and 18 (outcomes) items. A respondent may spontaneously refer to one or several items. In 2004, the most commonly mentioned outcomes were better coping at work, improved physical condition and improved workplace atmosphere. The most commonly referred reasons behind undertaking MWA activities at the workplace were the view that MWA contributes to coping at work, and the enthusiasm and motivation among personnel. See tables 1 and 2.

Table 1. Perceived impact of MWA at the workplace
Most commonly mentioned outcomes, proportion in different respondent groups, %
  Employers Employees Health care personnel
Improved coping at work 29 26 25
Improved physical condition 17 16 16
Improved workplace atmosphere 26 13 15
Improved co-operation 13 10 8
Reduced absences 14 8 11
Improved working conditions 8 7 13
Improved work motivation 13 5 6
Nothing 8 10 4

MWA Barometer 2001 /FIOH

Table 2. Reasons for taking up MWA activities at the workplace
Most commonly mentioned reasons, proportions in different respondent groups
  Employers Employees Health care personnel
Helps coping at work 38 40 31
Enthusiasm and motivation among the personnel 22 20 16
Positive impact on the working climate 25 16 15
Improves social dialogue 13 12 12
Good experiences from MWA 11 6 7
Productivity, efficiency, quality 15 8 11
Impact on problems of ageing of workforce 7 4 7

MWA Barometer 2001 /FIOH

In addition to this, the Finnish Quality of Work Life Surveys (FQWLS) also include a few questions which can be considered here. Up to now, Statistics Finland has carried out five extensive studies involving between 3,000 and 6,000 wage and salary earners: in 1977, 1984, 1990, 1997 and 2003. The next survey is due in 2008. The surveys are implemented as face-to-face interviews. In the Survey 2003, the respondents were asked:

C8. In your opinion, to what extent do the following statements apply to your workplace?

A. Occupational safety advances well-being and safety at work? Totally true/ True to some extent / Only slightly true/ Totally untrue

D. The occupational safety organisation (leader, deputy, representative, committee) works efficiently? Totally true/ True to some extent / Only slightly true/ Totally untrue

In 2003, almost half of the Finnish employees, men more often than women (54% vs. 44%), totally agreed with the statement that occupational safety advances well-being at work, while only good tenth disagreed or totally disagreed with it. There were almost no differences between the private and public sector in this respect. Every sixth employee (men 19%, women 13%, total 16%) considered that the occupational safety organisation worked efficiently at their workplace. There were some sectoral differences, especially as regards the proportion of employees totally disagreeing with the latest statement (private sector 12%, state 4%, municipalities 8%).

The data from the FQWLS make it possible to do some cross-tabulations on the relationship between efficiently functioning social dialogue on occupational safety matters (C8A and C8D) and general working conditions. Both these questions - and especially the one on the efficiency of the occupational safety organisation - have a clear positive correlation with e.g. perceptions of work well organised at workplace, open and inspiring atmosphere and team spirit, sufficient discussion on work arrangements at workplace as well as with open communications. Furthermore, the more efficient the work of occupational safety organisation at the workplace was assessed to be and the more commonly occupational safety was perceived as promoting well-being and safety at work, the less the respondents had been absent from work during the past 12 months. Respectively, the less efficient the work of the occupational safety organisation was assessed to be, the more commonly respondents felt reluctance on leaving for work and the more they reported physical and metal symptoms. However, the correlation was not this strong with such aspects as prevalence of bullying, gossiping, sufficiency/lack of personnel, fast pace of work or mentally demanding tasks.

Interestingly enough, the efficiency of the work of the occupational safety organisation was not at all, or only very slightly, connected with such insecurity factors as threat of dismissal or temporary dismissal or even with the threat of becoming incapable of work, on the one hand, or with perceived risk of e.g. accidents, strain injuries, hazards caused by chemical substances or becoming subjected to physical violence, on the other. However, there was a clear positive connection with such mental risk factors as the risk of grave work exhaustion, threat of unforeseen changes or threat of intolerable increase of workload. This gives reason to assume that, in Finland, the impact from occupational safety work and, thus, the importance of well-functioning social dialogue, is fundamental especially to mental working conditions. The pitfalls in physical working conditions and concrete risk factors may have been taken more commonly well into consideration even at workplaces where the work of the specific occupational safety organisation (and, implicitly, social dialogue) was not especially efficient.

Table 3. Relationship between the efficiency of the tripartite occupational safety work and working conditions
Proportion of employees by their view on the efficiency of the work of the occupational safety organisation, %
  Work arrangements or problems sufficiently discussed at the workplace (totally agree/ agree to some extent) Open atmosphere and team spirit prevail at the workplace (totally agree/ agree to some extent) Experiences the risk of grave work exhaustion as a distinct hazard Feeling reluctant or tired on leaving for work at least once a week
The occupational safety organisation works efficiently at the workplace (totally true) 72 78 6 9
The occupational safety organisation does not work efficiently at the workplace 46 51 12 19
All employees 59 62 9 14

Source: Finnish Quality of Work Life Surveys 2003

2. Qualitative research

This section could include case studies and specific research work

Present a summary of the research, its findings and methodology, including any caveats about the research

Is there a predominance of cases or more information available in certain sectors? Are any particular issues emerging? Has any monitoring or evaluation been carried out?

The Well-Being at Work Programme 2000-2003 was a government-initiated programme aimed at promoting working capacity and helping to maintain well-being at workplaces, with the ageing of the workforce as a special concern. The whole programme was based on social dialogue: the Ministry of Labour and the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health were responsible for the implementation of the project, together with the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Trade and Industry, and labour market organisations and other stakeholders. The programme not only provided information, disseminated good practices and monitored legislative work, but also supported some 170 development projects at workplaces and initiated eight new research projects, while at the same time also drawing on existing research findings. The qualitative research projects of the programme included a study of the effectiveness of good practices, a study of flexible working hour arrangements, a study of the monitoring of human resources and their utilisation, a study of well-being at work among young adults, a study of well-being at work among senior employees, a study of the economic impact of well-being at work, and a study of the burdening of work.

The research projects clearly demonstrated that well-being at work is not a mere coincidence or the result of isolated actions, but requires determined, systematic development efforts from all parties involved. In the following, the qualitative study ’Reciprocity is an asset - a study on flexible working time arrangements’ by Heikki Uhmavaara (University of Turku) and Pertti Jokivuori (University of Jyväskylä) is presented more closely. The starting point for the study was the fact that the Finnish Working Hours Act and the present collective agreements provide vast possibilities for tailoring working hour arrangements at workplaces. The study was conducted at 26 workplaces, and includes descriptions of their diversified working hour models and well-being at work. The study charters the possibilities of local agreements and encourages workplaces to use them, demonstrating that at their best, workplace-specific working hour practices have managed to increase the profitability of enterprises and the well-being of their employees. One of the most interesting examples related to working hour arrangements and well-being at work is so-called four-shift working hour arrangement which was in use at the Fazer bakery Oululainen in Lahti. The four-shift system is designed for senior employees (over 50-year-olds). The idea of the four-shift working hour system is that aged employees work for three weeks and then have one week off. The employees having the week off (so-called fourth week) constitute a reservoir of labour. During peak demand periods the employer can recall them to work.

The employees at the Fazer bakery Oululainen have been very happy with the four-shift arrangement, because it allows them to have a week’s holiday in every month. The employer admits that the system is more expensive than the conventional three-shift work, but the work motivation has increased notably, the number of days of illness has decreased, and by means of the system employees are able to work until the age of retirement. The system is based on trust, being a very good example of local-level social capital in co-operation and negotiation relations. In the food industry, flexibility cannot be achieved by extending the working day, because employees simply cannot work more than eight hours per day.

On the whole, an evaluation of the Well-Being at Work Programme showed that the Programme focused on the right things in the correct proportions. However, the research and development projects only reached a relatively small number of all work communities in Finland and as a consequence, the project’s direct effects in terms of improving well-being at work were viewed as being relatively minor from the perspective of Finnish working life as a whole. However, active involvement in training activities, and provision of information and practical guidelines to a large audience generated indirect effects on a considerably broader scale than the Programme’s direct effects. For instance, the Programme had an indirect impact on Finnish legislation on working life, as representatives of the labour market organisations involved in the Programme contributed to its drafting in compliance with the tripartite principle. The success of the Programme was firmly underpinned by the clear political support it received as a joint programme between four ministries and the labour market organisations, and by their smooth co-operation. All the involved parties were in complete agreement about the importance of well-being at work, and the joint implementation also contributed a great deal to the practical implementation and co-operation required.

3. Administrative reports

Public reports, such as reports from the health and safety authority or labour inspectorate, including reports drawn up by consultancy firms made on demand and financed by public authorities may be a relevant source of information on the relationship between working conditions and social dialogue

Do reports from Labour Inspectorate / Health and Safety Authorities exist where the absence of dialogue between the two sides of industry on OHS matters is mentioned? (present the findings briefly)

Is there predominance in a certain sector?

When so, mention the five most quoted sectors.

None of the reports studied in connection with responding to this national contribution refer to these kinds of problems. Neither could the officials of the Labour Inspectorate, contacted for the purpose of this national contribution, mention any reports where these kinds of problems would have been referred to.

The role of Labour Inspectorate in an advice / information role to get the social dialogue going whether establishment-specific or not.

According to the Occupational Health and Safety Act, the employer must nominate an OHS manager for the co-operation concerning occupational safety and health or take the position himself. If there are more than 10 employees at a workplace, they must choose an OHS representative. Furthermore, at workplaces with at least 20 employees, an OHS committee comprised of representatives of the employer, workers and clerical employees must be established. The OHS Inspectorates, supervised by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, act as authorities of the practical enforcement of OHS. They give instructions and advice on applying regulations concerning working conditions, employment and equality and monitor that the regulations are observed at workplaces. They have the right to visit all workplaces and inspect the necessary documents regarding OHS enforcement and, if necessary, oblige the employer to redress defects in this context. They monitor compliance with approximately 60 regulations. Their role as a facilitator of social dialogue at workplaces is not directly referred to in e.g. the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health’s OHS Strategy from 1998 or in the follow-up reports of the strategy (Occupational Safety …2005). However, the OHS Strategy defines in its priorities, among other things, that ”…Building a good working environment calls for the management of work environment issues, viable and efficient organisation, systematic management of safety and a capable and motivated personnel. Safety practices are manifested not only in a good corporate and organisational culture but also in safe conduct...” In this respect, it may be assumed that the OHS Inspectorates should act also when problems are detected in the functioning of social dialogue at a workplace.

Is the gender aspect taken up in OHS, is it taken up in the OHS social dialogue, who puts it on the agenda and what is its outcome, if any?

The gender aspect is not directly taken up in OHS social dialogue as such, but rather emerges indirect through specific risk sectors, such as the social and health care sector. The Labour Inspectorate does not enforce the Act on Equality between Women and Men, which is monitored by the Ombudsman for Equality. The Act on Equality between Women and Men (2005) decrees that every workplace with at least 30 employees is obliged to draw up an equality plan - usually done in co-operation with all parties - which must include i) an analysis of the situation regarding gender equality at the workplace, ii) a breakdown of the placement of women and men in different tasks, and an analysis of men’s and women’s tasks, pay and pay differentials, iii) measures, planned or implemented, to promote equality and equal pay and iv) an evaluation of how measures in the existing equality plan have been implemented and what results they have produced.

B. Actual examples of social dialogue influencing working conditions

The objective of this section of the CAR is to find out the views of the social partners on the influence of social dialogue on working conditions and to report real-life examples of where social dialogue has had an influence on working conditions. Our focus is on the “success stories”, where there has been a positive and reported outcome, but we would also welcome “failure stories” where, for whatever reason, social dialogue either broke down or did not have the desired influence on working conditions, or a particular intervention was tried and failed. Bear in mind that failure stories may be under-reported and success stories may be over-reported.

Please limit your answers to this second section (questions 4 and 5) to 2,500 words. National centres are asked to report at least two, but no more than four, cases in this framework. Please report, where possible, cases that are considered to be typical for your country.

4. Examples of social dialogue

Please ask the social partners in your country for what they consider to be successful or unsuccessful examples of social dialogue influencing working conditions and the criteria on which they make these judgements. This section could also include social partner views on which case studies are representative of the situation in your country.

The reporting for this section of the CAR should include:

The actors involved;

A description of the issue;

The level (national, sectoral, company, other). For example, there might be some evidence of sector-level experience transferring down successfully to company-level experience; and

The outcomes. If the intervention was a success, please list the success factors. If the intervention was not a success, please list the reasons or presumed reasons, why it was not a success.

The results of any relevant research findings.

The Finnish Industries (Elinkeinoelämän keskusliitto, EK)

Successful examples of new kinds of working time arrangements come mainly from the trade, hotel and catering and tourism. In these sectors, local, company-level agreements are fundamental part of collective agreements. An example of working time bank at Rukakeskus has been implemented to other companies, for instance Hotel Levitunturi. The working time bank in these companies means that employees’ working hours really varies according to the seasonal situation. The balancing period is 52 weeks, thus, an employee can collect (during the peak period) even 30 extra holidays and could have about 3 months vacation during May – September. The arrangement has improved services and competitiveness of the company and also work-life balance of employees. This is a good example of local level bargaining between employer and local trade union branch (the Service Union United PAM).

The working time bank arrangement has developed by the initiative of employees. With this working time arrangement employees can ensure the constancy of workplace and avoid lay-offs during the slow season, which was a typical situation earlier. From the employers’ point of view, these arrangements ensure the accessibility of workforce.

These kinds of arrangements require positive stand of trade unions, but do not need a leading role of them. The most crucial stake comes from the companies and local-level industrial relations. New collective agreements in the technology industries and in the fiscal sector offer new possibilities to local agreements concerning payment too.

The Commission for Local Authority Employers (Kunnallinen työmarkkinalaitos, KT)

KT names in particular two leading successful projects in the municipal sector:

1) Jorvi Hospital’s model for planning work rotas autonomously.

The Finnish municipal hospital, Jorvi, has launched a programme of working time autonomy in order to introduce flexibility to an otherwise rather strictly organised shift work schedule. In the new autonomy model, work shifts are planned together with all employees, aiming to take into account individual needs for different working times. Previously, the management was solely in charge of the working time schedules.

Employees’ working time options have been expanded from the previously fixed eight a.m. to four p.m. schedule, to a possible start time of seven a.m. and a possible finish time of six p.m. This has helped customer service and enabled more individualised working hours. The working times are negotiated within these limits so that the employee’s needs are taken into account.

Legislation on working time set the boundaries for the possibilities, but employees are able to influence their working times, while also ensuring that the work is done and that patients do not suffer as a result of the new time model. The aim is to improve the well-being of the employees and to help in the recruitment of skilled employees in the future. In addition, the project is expected to have a positive influence on the work organisation and the availability of services offered. So far, the results have been promising and the experiment has been adopted. Both employees and customers are more satisfied now than they were under the previous working time model. Employees are more committed to their work and productivity has risen. The project received an award by the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work.

2) Druvan-project in Dragsfjärd

The project of the development of working conditions and well-being at work took place in Dragsfjärd (a small Finnish municipality) in 2002-2005.

In a small municipality with 180 employees and a mean age of 45,2 the sick leaves and early retirements have radically increased during the last few years. If the trend does not change there will be huge financial problems and ,due to the post-war baby boom demographics, problems with recruiting personnel to replace those who retire. Therefore the municipality council decided on a 3-year project (DRUVAN) aiming at promoting well-being, work ability and total productivity among the employees.

The municipality’s investment in occupational health service increases from €13 to about €600/employee/year during a three year period 2002-2005. According to KT, Druvan programme is a good example of local functional and successful social dialogue between trade unions in the municipal sector and the local authority employer.

The State Employer’s Office (Valtion työmarkkinalaitos, VTML)

As successful examples in the state sector, VTML names recent different working time bank arrangements. The fundamental feature of successful examples is the fact that the management and the staff have created the arrangement in cooperation and that the parties have strong trust towards each other. However, there are no proper case studies in the public sector at government level.

The Central Organisation of Finnish Trade Unions (Suomen Ammattiliittojen Keskusjärjestö, SAK)

SAK names two examples of successful tripartite social dialogue:

1) The revised Act on Cooperation within Undertakings (the so-called Cooperation Act) that came in force in 1 July 2007. The new Cooperation Act would be applied to companies with a minimum of 20 employees. This would bring some 2,800 new companies and about 66,000 employees within the scope of the cooperation procedures. The government’s proposal is based on the report of the tripartite working group set up by the Ministry of Labour in 2003 to formulate proposals to reform the current Cooperation Act. The report was completed in June 2006.

2) The Working Life Development Programme TYKES 2004-2009. The Tykes launched at the beginning of 2004 supports developing work organisations through the cooperation of their management and personnel. The programme aims at growth in productivity to which is interweaved simultaneous improvement of the employees' development potentialities, their possibilities to influence matters, well-being at work, and workplace functionality. The programme has in its background the positive results of earlier working life programmes (The Workplace Development Programme Tykes, National Productivity Programme and Well-Being at Work Programme). The total budget of the Tykes programme, which is based on Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen's government platform, to be financed through the state budget has been estimated to be 87 million euros for 2004-2009. The aim is to have the workplaces invest double this amount in the projects. The programme's budget for 2004 is 12.5 million euros.

The programme supports researchers' and consultants' efforts in the projects. Development work is based on the management, personnel and experts of the workplaces working together as a team. The programme especially aims at strengthening the developmental cooperation between the enterprises and educational R&D establishments. The research-political goal of the Tykes programme is that the projects become topics for dozens of doctoral dissertations and licentiate studies. The aim is to have Finland become a top country in the field of working life development. The application process began on 1.2.2004. So far, there have been approximately fifty applications. Regional contact person networks in the TE Centres as well as the Occupational Safety and Health Inspectorates are also in the process of being created for the programme.

The Finnish Confederation of Salaried Employees (Toimihenkilökeskusjärjestö, STTK)

STTK considers that working time is an example of good and bad. There have been several tripartite working groups concerning this matter. A successful example of social dialogue comes from the system of working time bank. The use of working time bank has been negotiated and agreed at the central confederation level, handled in unions, and instructions of implementation have been given to individual workplaces. Some good examples of flexible working time arrangements have been reported in the study of “Reciprocity is an asset”.

STTK also names the case pf Jorvi Hospital’s model for planning work rotas autonomously as a successful example of social dialogue and the development of working conditions.

Another example of good social dialogue and working conditions is the new Act on Equality between Women and Men, which came into force on 1 June 2005 (see question number 3).

The Confederation of Unions for Academic Professionals (Akateemisten Toimihenkilöiden Keskusjärjestö, AKAVA)

Akava considers that particularly two programmes are good examples of the Finnish social dialogue: Well-Being at Work Programme and cooperation of social partners related to working time bank. Akava has favoured the need of long-term working time account or working time bank since 1980s. By Akava, working time protection is one of the key areas of health and safety protection of employees nowadays.

According to Akava, the aspiration of social partners for equal pay between women and men is an example of unsuccessful case. This goal has been relevant since 1987 when the Act on Equality between Women and Men came in force. Despite of the common effort, a little progress has been done in this matter.

5. Social partner views

Please ask the social partners in your country for their general views on the type, nature and quality of the social dialogue in your country in terms of its influence on working conditions. This could include, for example, their assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of the social dialogue, as it is organised in your country, as a tool for improving working conditions. Please report who you have contacted and in what form. The level of organisation (confederation, federation) that is relevant may differ between countries, although it is most likely that the organisation to be contacted will be a peak organisation.

The Finnish Industries (Elinkeinoelämän keskusliitto, EK)

According to the EK, the focus of the development of working conditions and the agreements of conditions of employment should be transferred onwards at local level. The role of labour market organisations is still important, because without their active support the transfer of focus is not possible. The role of labour market organisations will be changed from type of leading and guiding role into the type of an advisor and a trainer.

The strength of the Finnish social dialogue is strong trust toward the other party. The open dialogue and open handling of disagreements and the aspiration to find joint interest are also the strong part of Finnish social dialogue. The weakness of the social dialogue is a certain sluggishness to implement indispensable reforms, and the conservativeness of the trade union side to readjust social security system.

The Commission for Local Authority Employers (Kunnallinen työmarkkinalaitos, KT)

The strength of tripartite social dialogue is that social dialogue has long tradition related to social policy. Thus the parties have a lot of experience about the matters that lend or lend not in this type of cooperation. According to KT, one of the most important strengths is the absence of prejudice to trying to find out new solutions, this has happened after the recession in early 1990s. A good example of successful tripartite social dialogue is the Working Life Development Programme TYKES organised by the Ministry of Labour (see TYKES above).

The weakness of tripartite social dialogue is that the specific problems of the public sector are not enough in the agenda of tripartite cooperation and social dialogue.

The State Employer’s Office (Valtion työmarkkinalaitos, VTML)

The strength of the Finnish social dialogue is the readiness of negotiation which comes through the Act on Cooperation within Undertakings. The obvious strength in the public sector at government level is the principal of continuing negotiation which helps local bargaining.

The Central Organisation of Finnish Trade Unions (Suomen Ammattiliittojen Keskusjärjestö, SAK)

According to SAK, the strength of the Finnish social dialogue is agreement system which includes long tradition of national incomes policy agreements and tripartite cooperation.

At local level, according to the survey carried out by SAK in 2006 (FI0605019I), shop stewards and other trade union representatives of the SAK believe that the number of workplaces with favourable and cooperative social dialogue between top management and shop stewards has diminished in the last five years. Trade union representatives feel that employers are, in general, less appreciative of their employees now than they were in 2000, when the previous SAK survey was conducted.

The Finnish Confederation of Salaried Employees (Toimihenkilökeskusjärjestö, STTK)

Finnish strengths are related to the high union density, strong trade unions and the long tradition of tripartite cooperation. Tripartite cooperation in legislative work of working life has been successful during the last years.

The Confederation of Unions for Academic Professionals (Akateemisten Toimihenkilöiden Keskusjärjestö, AKAVA)

The strength of the Finnish labour market system – compared almost all other European countries – is naturally the national incomes policy agreement system. This has gathered social partners into the round table where dawning subjects of an agreement can be taken into consideration. This has enabled tripartite working groups that can compose and outline the matter in peace before an agreement and legislation. Recently, so-called continuous negotiation culture which takes place in tripartite working groups has ensured good social dialogue between trade unions and employers' organisations. The continuous negotiation system means that social partners have different kinds of joint projects during the agreement period. By the system of continuous negotiation, the signatory parties launched several joint projects for developing working life. The framework of working life can be enhanced through joint development projects and by highlighting best practices. The scope of the continuous negotiation system also includes matters that should be considered on a bipartite (between representatives of employers and trade unions) or on a tripartite basis. In an ongoing incomes policy agreement for the years 2005-2007 a total number of 23 working groups were agreed. Part of them was new ones and part was follow-on to previous groups. Working groups have been established to handle among others employment opportunities, contractor responsibility, and control of grey economy, “change security”, local bargaining and working time banks, enchancement operational preconditions of shop stewards and promotion of equality in working life.

Details of organisations and individuals that have been consulted in filling the part 4 and 5 of the questionnaire are available on request.

Hanna Sutela and Pertti Jokivuori Statistics Finland

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