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Enterprise Federation boss calls for working hour flexibility

Mikael Pentikäinen, CEO of the Federation of Finnish Enterprises, says Finland's individual companies should negotiate locally to implement the government's proposed addition of 24 working hours to the yearly total. On the national level, he says he hopes plans to negotiate a so-called competitiveness deal to reduce unit labour costs will reach the finish line.

Mikael Pentikäinen
Mikael Pentikäinen Image: Yle

The leader of Finland's most influential business owner's confederation, Mikael Pentikäinen, says Finland's competitiveness hinges on the ability of individual businesses to agree locally on potential changes to working hours. Each workplace, he says, should be able to face the issue independently.

Pentikäinen commented on the ongoing negotiations on TV1's morning programme on Saturday.

"There are 90,000 employer businesses in Finland, and every one of them has its own needs and problems," he says. "Companies should be able to come to terms over the ways in which working hour extensions are organised."

One of the central challenges of the country's pending competitiveness deal concerns the decision to extend working hours throughout the business sector by 24 hours a year.

Just how this extension will be dealt with is still up in the air, with possibilities ranging from adding a full working day to employees' schedules or simply adding a certain number of minutes to each working day.

Pentikäinen says that each company should be able to agree on the method independently.

"It's no use trying to dictate the way thousands of companies operate from Helsinki," he says.

Finland's unions are now considering if they will accept the competitiveness deal terms that are on the table. The Federation of Finnish Enterprises expected better results from the latest competitiveness deal draft that labour market parties agreed to.

Pentikäinen says he nonetheless does not wish for the deal to fall flat, but argues that local agreements could be developed alongside the deal. He says that 80 percent of entrepreneurs would be prepared to hire more workers if local agreement practices were to become more common.

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