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Citizens’ initiative opposing zero-hour contracts to go before MPs

A citizens’ initiative calling for the abolition of zero-hour work contracts has gathered the 50,000 signatures required to take it to the Parliament. MPs will now have to consider draft legislation prohibiting employers from offering workers the contracts, which essentially do not guarantee any working hours. It's now the sixth initiative to have received sufficient grassroots support to go before lawmakers.

Kuvassa kassatyöntekijä käsittelee viilejä kassalla
More than half of the 83,000 people who currently hold zero-hour work contracts are women, according to Statistics Finland. Image: Niko Tuikka / Yle

The citizens’ initiative to ban zero-hour work contracts was launched in January, primarily by young trade union activists. It gathered the 50,000 signatories required to take it to lawmakers well before July, the end of the six-month deadline given to initiatives to reach their goal.

One of the goals of the citizens’ initiative is to ensure that part-time workers are offered contracts guaranteeing them a minimum of 18 hours work each week.

The petitioners also want to prevent employers from violating regulations on probation periods and temporary layoffs, as well as side-stepping rules relating to protection from unfair dismissals. Overall, the aim is to improve the predictability of part-time workers’ earnings and hours of work as well as the security of their employment.

More than 80,000 on zero-hour contracts, mostly women

According to Statistics Finland, in 2014, some 83,000 people in Finland worked on zero-hour contracts, representing four percent of all employees. The majority – 57 percent – were women.

Finland moved to adopt a system of participatory democracy back in 2012 that allows ordinary people to play a major role in introducing or amending legislation by way of citizens’ initiatives. Since then, five initiatives have gathered the grassroots support needed to go to Parliament.

Just one, a ground-breaking bill on same-sex marriage made it into Finnish law books last year.

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