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Second university strike called off as parties reach job contracts deal

Both sides have agreed to a 3.45-percent salary increase, which largely corresponds with settlements reached in other sectoral negotiations.

Opiskelijoita Kaisa-talossa Helsingissä.
Image: Henrietta Hassinen / Yle

Negotiators representing university employers and employees have reached a two-year agreement on work contracts. On Tuesday, both sides accepted a settlement for a 26-month collective agreement tabled by the national conciliator.

According to the terms of the deal, both sides have agreed to a 3.45-percent salary increase, which largely corresponds with settlements reached in other sectoral negotiations.

The parties also agreed to use some of the pay increases to fund reforms to the salary system. The agreement follows a strike last week in which professors walked off the job for the first time in Finland.

More personal salaries

The proposal to reform the structure of employee salaries came from the employer side. According to the deal, from 2019, universities will introduce bi-annual evaluation rounds that will affect salaries.

“Reforming the pay system was a difficult issue. This is a balanced solution, you can’t have everything,” said Markku Kajo of Juko, the organisation representing public sector educators.

“We received clear indications of how the personal portion of salaries will change,” said Anne Somer of the education employers’ association.

Negotiators also reached a settlement on continuing the salary reform in different working groups.

According to estimates on the employers’ side, the financial implications of the deal are somewhat smaller than in broader labour market talks. The end result is due to the delayed implementation of other wage agreements on the settlement.

Additionally, about one-third of salary increases will be paid out in two separate instalments to be agreed separately.

Work stoppage and sympathy strikes called off

Tuesday’s settlement means that further strike action by university staff due to take place Wednesday has been called off.

The work stoppage would have affected Aalto University, Hanken, Tampere University, Tampere University of Technology, Vaasa University and the University of the Arts.

The public sector service workers’ union JHL had previously threatened a sympathy strike that would have affected the operations of the Kouvola rail depot as well as train traffic at the Hamina-Kotka harbour.

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