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Competitiveness pact approved – Metalworkers last holdout

The centre-right coalition government has been pushing for such a national agreement since before it took office in May 2015, saying it is essential to bring economic recovery and job creation.

Riku Aalto
Metalworkers' Union boss Riku Aalto was the man of the hour on Friday. Image: Petteri Paalasmaa / AOP

The last obstacle to the long-negotiated competitiveness pact appeared to be disappearing on Friday evening. The Metalworkers' Union and employers' group the Federation of Finnish Technology Industries said they had reached accord on the deal. The industry federation says it has approved the compromise.

The metal union's Executive Committee finally approved it around 9pm. Its decision must be approved by the trade union's National Council, which does not convene until Friday next week.

Riku Aalto, chair of the Metalworkers Union, says he personally backs the deal.

Some 280,000 workers are covered by contracts under the Federation of Finnish Technology Industries.

All eyes on metal union

All the other labour market groups said on Friday that their approval would be conditional on the participation of the Metalworkers, Finland's biggest industrial trade union.

The centre-right coalition government has been pushing for such a national agreement since before it took office in May 2015, saying it is essential to bring economic recovery and job creation. Several previous rounds of negotiations had collapsed.

EK OKs deal

Jyri Häkämies, Director General of the Confederation of Finnish Industries (EK), said at a press conference on Friday evening that the employers' group had approved the pact. He estimated that unions and industry groups covering 80-85 percent of workers in the country would sign on to it. The former minister of economic affairs estimated that this level of participation would lead the government to approve a tax cut of 415 million euros. It had offered more if over 90 percent of the workforce was included.

According to calculations by the Taxpayers Association of Finland, such a tax cut would have zero impact on the average wage-earner's spending power.

Häkämies added that it was regrettable that the Transport Workers Union (ATK) was staying outside of the likely agreement, noting that it plays a crucial role in exports.

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