Finnish Politics This Week

Readers will have noted from the last two pieces of news this last week that the Finnish government is managing to make some rather good progress with their planning for new policies for social and healthcare reform, and for increasing the employment rate. 

The Health Minister and the Minister for the economy were both in front of the press last week to set out clear timetables for both matters. There can be no doubt that they are major long-term projects that involve an enormous amount of planning.

Both of the ministers are well seasoned and are familiar with the complexities of the subject they are dealing with. They have set up large teams of experts whose job it is to come with recommendations within each of their respective ministries, and with the other ministries with whom there is clear cooperation on these topics.

As was stated in the two columns, various media outlets have been highly critical of the present government because leaks from the various working parties have indicated, according to the media outlets, that there has been some disagreements on how to go forward. The performance of the two ministers at the press conferences were excellent and pushed aside any doubt in the minds of those present that the planning process is on a strong footing now.

The other hot potato and finish politics last week has been the threat of strikes from the big trade unions because they do not agree with the employers union that low paid workers should be forced to work an extra 24 hours without being paid. The employees union were of the opinion that such an agreement had been reached to scrap the “extra 24 hours without being paid”. The employers union were of a different opinion and hence the threat of strikes. This situation needs to be remedied as quickly as possible to avoid a two week long strike. However, matters were not made any easier when the labour market mediator, Ms. Piekkala, (a government appointed National Conciliator for a 4-year term), said that the removal of the extra 24 hours should be compensated by a small reduction in any increase in wages under a collective wage agreement.

The trade unions were already angry with her over her mishandling of the recent Post Office labour contract and they started to accuse her of being on the employer’s side! Her predecessor was also accused of the same breach of trust, which may have been partly true since she resigned from her independent position and joined the employers’ side for a nice increase in salary!

Whatever the truth, there can be no doubt that both sides are always playing dirty and try hard to maintain the biggest advantage for their side rather than looking out for Finland. Both sides are also packed with highly-paid trade union professionals who know how to look after their hard-earned benefits rather than those of the members.

Readers may be interested to learn that many new unions have sprung up in the UK for people in the gig economy like cleaners, drivers, and care workers who see and know that the big traditional trade unions are not looking after their interests. The comments from the British gig community are that the big traditional trade unions like to talk a lot and eat fruit cake, but the new ones act and organise effective strike actions and get lots of attention. The older unions do not want to rock the boat too much and are timidly supporting the likes of Jeremy Corbyn! 

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