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EK chief: Average salaries in Finland are too high

More than half a year since labour groups agreed to decreases in benefits and extended working hours for many unionised workers, the head of the business organisation the Confederation of Finnish Industries (EK) - and CEO of a major telecom company - says he thinks average salaries in Finland are still too high. In reaction, two opposition MPs publicly denounced the comments.

Veli-Matti Mattila
EK's president Veli-Matti Mattila. File photo. Image: Yle

According to newspaper Helsingin Sanomat, EK's president Veli-Matti Mattila said the average salaries of Finnish workers are still some 10 to 15 percent too high. He said further restraint in salaries and several new competitiveness pacts are needed.

Last summer, among other concessions, labour organisations agreed to extend working hours, salary freezes and decreased vacation benefits of workers. At the same time, employees also took on higher fees for social services.

But those concessions were not adequate, according to Mattila, who said that compared to countries like Sweden and Germany, salaries are too high in Finland. Mattila's comments were published in HS on Saturday.

Opposition MPs slam comments

The chair of the opposition Green League party Ville Niinistö tore into Mattila's comments in a post on his Facebook page.

Niinistö wrote that the Finnish labour and welfare model has worked for years and that he wondered how a person who earns 70 times as much as the average Finn could come to such conclusions. He called Mattila's statement greedy.

In her own Facebook post, opposition Left Alliance chair Li Andersson said Mattila's comments reflects that the business organisation's vision of competitiveness is outdated.

Apart from his responsibilities at Finland's biggest business organisation, Mattila is also the CEO of Finnish telecoms firm Elisa and reportedly earns some 70 times that of the average Finnish worker.

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