Employers’ organisations plan to merge in 2005

In September 2003, Finland's two main employers' confederations - the Confederation of Finnish Industry and Employers (TT) and the Employers´ Federation of Service Industries (PT) - announced that are studying the possibility of merging by 2005.

The Confederation of Finnish Industry and Employers (Teollisuuden ja Työnantajain Keskusliitto, TT) and the Employers’ Federation of Service Industries (Palvelutyönantajat, PT) are Finland's two main central employers' organisations. Merger plans have been floated for some years, but they have recently become more serious and concrete. In mid-September 2003, TT and PT announced that they have launched a joint project to study the possibilities of replacing their current separate organisations with a new joint organisation. According to the timetable, technical preparations should be carried out in 2003 and the final decisions taken in 2004. Everything should be in place for the new organisation to start operation in the beginning of 2005. The coordinator of the project is Matti Packalén.

The objective of the proposed merger is to create a larger organisation with strong bargaining power in domestic as well as international forums, and which makes efficient use of resources. The internationalisation of firms, economic globalisation and especially European integration have emphasised the importance of employers' organisations international activities, such as lobbying. Finnish membership of the third stage of EU Economic and Monetary Union and introduction of the euro single currency have also promoted conditions favourable for the TT-PT merger. Exchange rate policy no longer causes disagreements between the industrial (represented by TT) and service sectors (represented by PT), as it did in the past when major currency devaluations were used to promote industrial exports.

There are altogether almost 225,000 firms in Finland, employing more than 1.3 million workers. PT represents about 9,300 member companies, employing 380,000 workers. Most of these companies are quite small - about 75% of them employ fewer than 20 workers - but there are also a few large multinational firms among PT members. TT has nearly 5,700 member companies, employing some 540,000 people. Many of the smallest firms are members of the Federation of Finnish Enterprises (Suomen Yrittäjät), which does not have an official position in the collective bargaining system (FI9906108F).

The last major merger among Finnish employers’ organisations took place in 1992, when TT was created by a merger of former separate employers' and industry/trade federations. The new joint organisation of PT and TT would have about 15,000 member firms, employing more than 900,000 people. Both PT and TT are members of the Union of Industrial and Employers’ Confederations of Europe (UNICE) and they share already the same office in Brussels.

Reactions to proposed merger among trade unions have been quite positive. A tendency towards integration and the creation of larger units has also been prevalent among trade unions (FI0204102N, FI0106189N and FI0101172N) and the merger of employers’ organisations might even strengthen this process. Merging the Central Organisation of Finnish Trade Unions (Suomen Ammattiliittojen Keskusjärjestö, SAK) and the Finnish Confederation of Salaried Employees (Toimihenkilökeskusjärjestö, STTK) has been under discussion from time to time. Such a united union confederation would have almost 2 million members, which is high given that Finland has 5.2 million inhabitants.

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