Unions in Finland
Resolution in Finland
Finnish Trade Union to
Finnish Trade Union Confederations
of Finnish Employees
Publications & Further Information
Sites of Interest
Unions in Finland
Approximately 80% of Finns are members of
a trade union. The International Labour organization
(ILO) has ranked Finnish unions as amongst
the most effective in the world.
The main purpose of a union is to safeguard
and improve the benefits and rights of its members. This
includes, for example, income development, employment security,
and quality of work life.
In Finland an important function of trade
unions is to run unemployment funds and to provide earnings-related
unemployment benefits. These are typically much higher than
the basic unemployment allowance provided by KELA (see Social Security).
Many would argue that this is the primary reason for joining
a union, and you should certainly enquire about joining an
unemployment fund as soon as you start a new job.
Finnish unions are occupation-based. There
are three main levels: Local trade unions, national federations
of member local unions, and confederations which are the
peak organizations made up of affiliated federations. Collective
agreements covering the whole of Finland are concluded between
Dispute Resolution in Finland
If you find yourself involved in a potential
dispute with your employer, ask your shop steward (your union's
representative in the workplace) for advice. If you don't
know or can't reach the shop steward, contact your union
and ask them how to proceed.
If you are a member of a union you will
almost certainly be working under a collective agreement
detailing certain terms and conditions of your employment.
If disagreements arise at the workplace regarding a collective
agreement or its interpretation, or if it appears that the
agreement may have been broken, dispute resolution usually
begins with negotiations at the workplace. Most collective
agreements provide a grievance procedure for the settlement
of disputes concerning the application of the agreement in
If the matter cannot be solved between the
employees and employer, negotiations will then continue between
the employer and the shop steward representing the trade
If the negotiations still dont produce
a solution, the matter will be forwarded to be negotiated
between the employer and the wage and salary earners unions.
If no solution can be found at this level,
either one of the unions may take the matter to the Labour
Legal labour disputes that do
not concern collective agreements can be taken to
Ministry of Labour's publication Industrial Relations and Labour Legislation in Finland PDF
Of Employment And The Economy home page, then > In English
> Work > Labour Legislation
Expat Finland's Employment
Law & Disputes section
Finnish Trade Union to Join?
Given that employers would
probably be happy for you to join the weakest union, they
are not the first people to ask! When you start your new
job, ask colleagues (or friends) who are in the same field
which union(s) they are members of, and if they are happy
with the service they are receiving. The answer will probably
You could also search the sites of the confederations
below, and isolate which of their affiliated unions sounds
right for you. Ask around and look on the Web for any "reviews" of
that union which might be available.
A list of all Finnish unions affiliated
with the confederations below, plus their contact details,
is included in the publication
Finnish Trade Union Confederations
In Finland the most important
confederations are SAK, STTK and AKAVA - it's not unlikely
that you will join a union affiliated with one of these.
SAK - Central organization of Finnish
SAK is the oldest employee confederation in Finland, founded
in 1907. It represents more
than one million members in 21 affiliated trade unions. Members
are from industry, the public sector, transport
and private services. You cannot really define a "typical" member;
local authority childminders, flight attendants, bus drivers,
waiters, builders and paper mill employees are all working
in sectors organized under the broad SAK umbrella.
to SAK's site (English/Finnish/Swedish/German/French/Spanish/Estonian/Russian/Polish)
STTK - The Finnish Confederation of Professionals
Trade union confederation formed by 20 affiliated unions
representing approximately 640 000 professional employees.
Members are from the public sector, private industry
and the private service sector. Nearly 70 % of members
are women. Typical
member groups include nurses, technical
engineers, police officers and secretaries.
to STTK's site (English/Finnish/Swedish)
AKAVA - Confederation of Unions for Professional and Managerial Staff in Finland
Trade union confederation for those with university, professional
or other high-level education. Akava is formed by 34 affiliates,
and has about 548 000 members, with 70% unionisation
rate. Members work as experts and educators, for example,
and Akava affiliates are also open to all university students
and most Polytechnic students.
to AKAVA's site (English/Finnish/Swedish)
& Responsibilities of Finnish Employees
A written employment contract is usually
signed between employer and employee, and is highly desirous.
A good contract should clearly state the details and scope
of the job in question, including working hours, salary,
benefits, incremental pay rises, pay days etc.
In Finland it is common to negotiate terms
and conditions to be included in the contract, but any such
terms must never be below the standard of the terms and conditions
already set in the collective agreement negotiated by your
union.. If you discover you have accepted terms and conditions
worse than those in the collective agreement you can claim
compensation. Contact your union.
More information: Finnish
- salary in accordance with the collective labour
agreement or the collective bargaining contract
- protection, which is provided for in law and in agreements
- right to belong to a union
- a healthy and safe working environment
- perform their tasks carefully
- follow the supervisors instructions
- refuse to take part in activities that are in direct
competition with those of the employer
- keep business and professional secrets confidential
- observe the benefit of the employer
- abide by the agreed working hours
*Tip: Find out how many days you can be on sick leave
before your employer requires a doctors note.
and Further Information
Every Employee Should Know
three labour confederations in Finland, STTK,
FFC and AKAVA have jointly published the
introductory guide to the Finnish Trade Union
Every Employee Should Know. It contains general information on
the Finnish labour union movement as well as
the benefits and rights which workers have in
in 4 languages: English Estonian
Trade Union News
Finnish journalist Juhani Artto provides a comprehensive
roundup of Finnish trade union news at his web
site, in English.
Visit Trade Union News