UPM attempts to unilaterally dictate future terms of employment for salaried employees | Trade Union Pro
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UPM attempts to unilaterally dictate future terms of employment for salaried employees

9.2.2021 14:40
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Finnish forest industry company ​UPM communicated on Monday 8 February to its employees that in future it will not negotiate collectively the terms of employment for its salaried employees on a local, municipal, workplace- or product group-specific levels. From 2022 onwards negotiations concerning terms and conditions of employment will be conducted solely via individual appraisals, UPM informed.

 

UPM’s decision to abandon collective bargaining and to apply only the level of the minimum labour legislation will worsen the terms of employment for company's salaried employees. On an annual level this will result in employees facing pay cuts of up to several thousands of euros. Each employee would also have to individually negotiate for their sick pay, parental leave pays, and additional holiday allowance, which are part of the present collective agreement.

- This is a serious attempt to destroy the Finnish collective bargaining culture as well as an open attack against our welfare state. The significant pay cuts of salaried employees will decrease tax revenues for both the Finnish state and for municipalities where forest industry provides a significant source of livelihood, says Trade Union Pro’s President Jorma Malinen.

Finnish labour market culture is based on collective bargaining agreements, which complement the Finnish labour law. Sector-based collective agreements contain typically many provisions, which are superior to what is mandated by the law as well as determine the minimum wage. Since the minimum wages are set by sector-based collective bargaining, Finland does not have a statutory minimum wage.

Finnish business community has pushed for more company-level bargaining at the expense of national collective bargaining while claiming how it would be more sensitive towards various workplace-specific features. UPM’s decision shows that the employers and owners have no interest in agreeing even locally. The employees are being completely stripped from their rights to bargain, equal pay, and terms of employment, Malinen says.

UPM also informed that the company is developing a new system for personnel representation through workplace-specific associations.

- Companies that are operating in dictatorships and countries where labour rights are restricted are typically establishing these kinds of workplace-specific associations. UPM’s actions should cause worry not only for trade unions, but also for the whole Finnish system of democratic decision-making structure, Malinen says.

- UPM’s arrogant announcement of supplanting the voluntary organization of employees will spread to other companies and other personnel groups gradually, if not immediately. What employees need right now are legislative measures that safeguard and confirm their right to collective bargaining also in the future, Malinen says.