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Settlement reached in industrial sector wage talks

The boards of both employer and employee organisations will consider the deal before the details are made public.

Teollisuusliiton puheenjohtaja Riku Aalto (vas.) ja ensimmäinen varapuheenjohtaja Turja Lehtonen (2. vas.) sekä Teknologiateollisuuden työmarkkinajohtaja Minna Helle (oik.) Teollisuusliiton ja Teknologiateollisuuden neuvotteluissa valtakunnansovittelijan toimistossa Helsingissä 16. joulukuuta.
The Industrial Union's Riku Aalto (left) in talks with employer lobby Technology Finland's Minna Helle (right). Image: Markku Ulander / Lehtikuva

Industrial employers and trade unions have finally agreed a pay deal after months of collective bargaining talks, two strikes, and a lock-out by employers.

Employer umbrella group Technology Finland and the Industrial Union, which represents 100,000 workers in the sector, managed to reach a settlement on Friday after a marathon session that began on Thursday afternoon.

The two groups thrashed out outstanding issues in the latest round of talks without the leadership of national labour conciliator Vuokko Pietilä. Technology Industries executive director Minna Helle and Industrial Union boss Riku Aalto both tweeted about the breakthrough on Friday afternoon.

The boards of both bodies will consider the settlement proposal on Saturday afternoon before giving it the green light. If they do, the details of the deal will them be made public.

The agreement is seen as an important benchmark in collective bargaining agreements across the economy, as it is expected to set the tone for wages and conditions of work in other sectors.

Five months of negotiations

The long-running standoff on the issue of workers’ pay began last August. Since then the state conciliator has tabled two different settlement proposals, while the union has implemented an overtime ban as well as a three-day strike in a bid to accelerate an agreement.

Employers also called a lock-out just before Christmas to ramp up the pressure on unions.

National conciliator Pietilä’s first proposal offered a 1.6-percent pay hike over two years, while the second suggested an increase of 2.4 percent over the period.

The main bone of contention between the parties was their difference on the scale of workers’ salary increases over the two-period of the collective agreement.

Another stumbling block was the contentious so-called competitiveness pact introduced by the Juha Sipilä government to reduce cost of labour and boost national competitiveness. The measure effectively lengthened working hours for most workers in the country by 24 hours a year.

The employer group argued against a large pay rise, if those additional hours were given up in the new agreement.

However the union said that the extra hours were meant to be a temporary arrangement and that rolling them back would not influence the level of potential wage increases.

Industrial sector deal under scrutiny

The collective bargaining agreement brokered on Friday will come under close scrutiny by labour market groups in other industries as employer representatives in other sectors see the pay rise agreed on Friday as a general nationwide benchmark.

Nurses’ unions such as Tehy and SuPer as well as the welfare sector union JHL are expected to call for pay hikes in excess of the guideline during collective bargaining talks due in the spring.

Both Tehy and SuPer have announced that they want pay rises 1.8 percent higher than the benchmark level.

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