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Party youth groups slam redundancy proposal

The junior wings of several parties say new rules proposed by the main trade union confederation would hurt younger workers.

tarjoilija tekemässä kahvia
Thirteen political youth and student organizations have signed a statement criticizing the redundancy rules model presented by SAK. Image: AOP

A wide range of political party youth groups and student organisations have issued joint a position paper rejecting a proposal by the blue-collar trade union confederation SAK for a series of factors that employers would have to take into account when laying off workers.

The youth groups say that if implemented, the rules would put younger employees in a weaker position in the job market as compared to their older counterparts.

The SAK proposal calls for employers to take four factors into account when deciding who to lay off. These would be the individual's professional skills, job seniority, number of dependents, and any loss of ability to carry out assigned work while in the service of the employer.

This model has been interpreted by some, including the youth groups that backed the critical position paper, as protecting older workers at the expense of younger employees.

The inclusion of job seniority, that is the length of service with an employer, is seen as especially prejudicial.

"Even though this is not in itself age-dependent, young people have been in the job market for a shorter time, and when redundancies are rolled out they are in a weaker position," points out Pinja Perholehto who is the first deputy secretary of the Social Democratic Youth.

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Pinja Perholehto
Pinja Perholehto. Image: Sasha Silvala/Yle

Perholehto doesn't see discussion of a preferred order of redundancies as being intrinsically discriminatory. She believes that if and when written into law, at best it could increase the transparency and clarity of the process. Even so, the Social Democratic Youth is not actively backing the establishment of an order of redundancies in Finland.

"We don't oppose an order of redundancies, rather we want a discussion about what criteria such a system would be based on, if there is a desire to move ahead with it," says Perholehto.

Conservative group: Plan not fair to the young

Matias Pajula, who chairs the Youth of the National Coalition Party completely rejects the idea that the state should be involved in how employers decide to implement redundancies. According to Pajula, companies should be trusted to know what they are doing and allowed to make decisions on the local level.

"No one sets redundancies as a goal. It happens when it is really necessary. No entrepreneur wants to be in that position," argues Pajula.

Pajula is also critical of the timing of the discussion, pointing out that in the present circumstances, young people finishing their studies and those just entering the workforce are facing an uncertain future.

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Varusmiesliiton puheenjohtaja Matias Pajula.
Matias Pajula.

"The job market is moving in a more challenging direction and is already precarious for young people, so we really do see increasing this [uncertainty] as being fair," Pajula says.

Pajula hopes that the government will also take a position on the order of redundancies.

"If, for some reason, despite all the objections, this is being prepared, it would be fair to say so. If it is known that something is being prepared, it is much easier to comment on it," he points out.

Finnish Centre Youth: SAK proposal rigid and inflexible

The chair of the Finnish Centre Youth, Hanna Markkanen, describes the SAK's proposal as rigid and inflexible.

"Instead of making such a [proposal], we should offer young people hope and faith in the future. If the model comes into force, it would only make matters worse. Young people are generally at a disadvantage when entering a career," Markkanen notes.

According to Markkanen, redundancy situations are a larger package of measures and should not be dealt with on the basis of individual criteria, such as years of service. She believes that employers and companies know how to get through situations.

"Redundancies are always really tough. The starting point should be what kind of employees are important to the company in terms of their skills," Markkanen says.

The message of the Finnish Centre Youth to its parent party is that it would like the Centre to take a position on such an important issue. Markkanen hopes that other parties - whether they belong to the government or the opposition - will also offer their own models for the debate.

"This is a really big matter when it also includes discussion of the future of earnings-related benefits, and many youth organisations, such as the Centre Youth, have strongly pushed for a basic income model," Hanna Markkanen adds.

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