Union boss gets 60 percent pay rise

Industrial Union chairman Riku Aalto's pay jumped 60 percent after absorbing separate trade unions to become the country's second-biggest blue-collar union.

Riku Aalto (left) and Turja Lehtonen are set for big pay rises following a trade union merger. Image: Emmi Korhonen / Lehtikuva ja Ilmari Herranen / AOP

The boss of a Finnish trade union received a huge pay increase after his metalworkers' union merged with two other unions to form a new body called the Finnish Industrial Union. His pay rose from 9,200 euros to 14,900 euros, an increase of 60 percent of some 5,600 euros.

The union said the pay hikes were necessary as the new union will be the second-largest blue collar union after private sector workers' union PAM with some 226,000 members after the merger is completed in the New Year.

"The Industrial Union will be a big, agenda-setting union," said the chair of the union's board, Jyrki Levonen. "The chair is in the public eye 24 hours a day. In future the Industrial Union will employ 350 people and the chair also has financial responsibility [for the budget]. Those are the grounds for the decision."

Members get just 3.2 percent

Aalto's right-hand man Turja Lehtonen also received a pay bump of some 30 percent, bringing his monthly salary to 9,900 euros. Neither Lehtonen nor Aalto were involved in discussions around their salaries.

Aalto's pay increase has already been implemented, while Lehtonen's will come into force from January.

News of the pay hike comes as many of Finland's workers wait for the results of sector-by-sector wage bargaining which will set their pay for the next two years.

The Industrial Union agreed a deal in its own sector at the end of October. The union's members will receive pay rises totalling 3.2 percent over two years from 2018.