The Confederation of Finnish Industries (EK) has left a working group aimed at combatting pay discrimination, claiming that government had already decided the outcome of the talks in advance.
The industrial employers' lobby said that the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health (STM) had violated basic principles of tripartite legislative drafting.
"STM’s Equality Unit has failed to address the issues raised by the working group, and has not weighed different options. Instead, it has decided the outcome of the talks already," Katja Leppänen, who represented the EK in the working group, told Helsingin Sanomat on Monday.
"The other parties are only asked for approval when a decision has already been made by the ministry. We refuse to be used as a puppet," she said.
In Finland the state, employers and employees are involved in what are known as tripartite legislation changes. The EK had previously disagreed with proposals from trade union confederations on closing the gender pay gap.
In February it emerged that unions wanted to introduce external evaluation of collective agreements governing pay and conditions to determine their effect on the gender pay gap, but the EK disagreed.
"An exceptional way of bulldozing legislative changes"
In a press release, EK director Ilkka Oksala stated, "STM’s Equality Unit does not respect the principles of tripartite drafting of legislation. Its actions do not comply with good tripartite practices. It has been many years since we have encountered such an exceptional way of bulldozing legislative changes through a working group, without complying with the basic principles of legislative drafting."
According to the EK press release, the Minister for Gender Equality, Thomas Blomqvist (Swedish People's Party), who set up the working group, has been asked several times to get the discussions back on track, but the requests have not led to any changes.
Jaana Tuominen, who will take over as the EK’s new chair in January, said on Monday that EK does not feel it can continue in the working group merely as a ‘rubber stamp’, and therefore have come to the exceptional conclusion to leave the group.