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Labour conciliator proposes settlement in industrial sector wage talks

The Industrial Union's pay talks are likely to set the tone for wage rises across the economy.

 Teknologiateollisuuden työnantajien toimitusjohtaja Jarkko Ruohoniemi ja Teollisuusliiton puheenjohtaja Riku Aalto istuvat pyödän ääressä ja sovittelevat vientialojen työriitaa valtakunnansovittelija Anu Sajavaaran johdolla valtakunnansovittelijan toimistolla.
Jarkko Ruohoniemi, left, chair of the Technology Industry Employers of Finland, and Riku Aalto, right, chair of the Industrial Union, sit at the table and mediate the labour dispute under the guidance of national conciliator Anu Sajavaara, centre. Image: Lehtikuva / Heikki Saukkomaa
Yle News

National Conciliator Anu Sajavaara announced on Thursday morning that she had submitted a settlement proposal for wage negotiations in the industrial sector.

The parties — the Industrial Union and the Technology Industry Employers of Finland — must either accept or reject the proposal by 9am on Friday.

The Industrial Union has issued a series of strike warnings regarding the technology and chemical sectors.

If no agreement is reached in time, the first three-day strike will start on 1 February for a limited number of companies. A second three-day strike is threatened to occur between 8 and 10 February. The unions have already brought in an overtime ban.

The parties are in dispute over the size of annual cost of living wage rises.

The union confederation SAK, of which the Industrial Union is a member, has set its sights on a German-style wage increase of five percent, arguing that inflation was nearly ten percent in December. Employers have argued that such an increase would be too high.

Agreement could prevent further strikes

Many employers' groups in other sectors have refused to even discuss pay with unions until the dispute in the industrial sector is settled. The sector is regarded as the main exporting sector in Finland and has traditionally set the general level of pay rises.

Employers' organisations have sought to preserve that tradition, even as they leave the economy-wide pay negotiations that have maintained it.

If the parties accept the conciliator's proposal and an agreement is reached, it is likely to have a broad impact on other sectors. The terms of collective bargaining agreements reached between unions and employers in the Finnish technology industry often set the benchmark for other sectors.

Thus, a wage settlement in the technology industry could lead to a rapid agreement in the chemical sector and also in industries such as transport and retail. These are also sectors where strike warnings have been issued or threatened in recent days.

However, if either side rejects the settlement proposal, collective bargaining and threats of industrial action will continue.

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