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Veikkaus starts redundancy talks, 140 jobs on the line

The Finnish national betting agency Veikkaus will begin negotiations to downsize its payroll. The talks will involve nearly half of its total staff, and the company says it may eventually shed 140 employees.

Image: Timo Jaakonaho / Lehtikuva

The state-owned gambling agency Veikkaus is set to start restructuring talks affecting close to 1,000 employees. The company says last year's fusion – in which Veikkaus, trotting betting agency Fintoto and the slot machine firm RAY were merged into one giant betting monopoly – is behind the decision. Veikkaus is fully owned by the Finnish government and has an exclusive legal betting license on lotteries and sports betting. 

The talks will affect 960 people, and the current estimate predicts that 140 positions may be terminated. In addition, about 20 job descriptions will change.

Veikkaus employs about 2,000 people altogether since the merger.

"We are looking to improve our cost-efficiency compared to the three-party entity that used to exist. We're developing a new integrated business model," Veikkaus CEO Olli Sarekoski commented.

The last round of employee-employer talks at Veikkaus took place just six months ago. The aim of the January negotiations was not expressly to reduce staff, but to eliminate overlapping operations and alter job descriptions, the company said.

Criticism of Veikkaus decisions of late

The trade union Pro criticised the betting agency for replacing permanent positions with temporary posts.

"It's a pretty strange human resources policy. They restructured their organisation and created work assignments when there wasn't even any intention of maintaining them for more than a few months," says Pro's service sector director Else-Mai Kirvesniemi.

Pro's website states that when the companies were planning to merge back in 2015, the union presented its concerns about job security to the Ministry of the Interior and the Parliamentary Affairs Advisory Board.

At the time, Pro was told that the merger was not intended to save on personnel costs. The parliamentary gambling committee was also told that no layoffs were planned as part of the fusion.

In related news, in early March it was reported that MP Harry "Hjallis" Harkimo, a majority shareholder in the Jokerit ice hockey team, was appointed to the Veikkaus Board of Directors by Prime Minister Juha Sipilä.

The move caused some consternation in the Finnish Parliament, where several MPs suspected bias and potential conflicts of interest because Veikkaus is a key sponsor of Harkimo's hockey outfit.