Editorial Does the wage ceiling created by industry hold in other sectors as well?

Other sectors can only see the first agreements as steps towards higher increases.

Round of negotiations new working conditions are progressing, albeit slowly. Negotiations in the municipal sector began on Tuesday, and trade negotiations on Wednesday. At the same time, some contracts for industrial workers are still pending.

It seems that this time the union-specific agreements will go beyond the limits that employees will not negotiate to be more decentralized – except in the forest industry. However, there is also a limit where UPM has demanded business-specific agreements. The Paper Association responded with a strike that could continue into February.

Even the technology industry shook the usual contract structure when it decided to stop concluding collective agreements in the spring of last year. The Technology Industry Employers’ Association was established as a negotiating organization. It was supposed to bring together those companies that cannot or do not want to enter into their agreements directly with the trade union.

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However, the new organization was joined in such a short time by so many members that the agreement it made became universally binding at once: it must also be complied with by companies that did not join the employers’ organization.

The collective agreement between the technology industry and the Confederation of Industry has usually been the so-called main opener of the labor market round. This time, senior officials in the industry made their contracts first. The employer side incited the agreement of the superiors as the main opening, which the Industry Association sourly denied.

Contract activities the start-up Association of Employers in the Technology Industry may have tried to break up the ranks of employees by first signing a contract with senior employees. So far, however, the employers ’movement has caused the most confusion.

Senior employees received increases of 1.8 percent in the contract for this year. However, it was difficult to consider it as a so-called general line, as many senior employees agree on their own pay increases directly with the employer.

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A couple of days later, the Confederation of Finnish Industry agreed on exactly two percent increases for this year. The difference is small, but its symbolic significance can prove to be great. If there was no general line on the increase in senior staff in the technology industry, who guarantees that even two percent of the Confederation of Finnish Industry would be like that? If only it is a step from which it is striving for more vigorous raises.

The wage cycle is in danger of getting out of hand, as in the autumn of 2007. There was a strong upswing at the time. The unions set their wage targets so that the increases received by the previous unions were no longer the ceiling for all other sectors, but only one step up the ladder. At their top was Tehy’s contract of more than 12 percent. The wage auction that happened unfortunately during the financial crisis weighed on Finland’s competitiveness for years.

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Industry Association a 2% wage increase may seem modest when compared to soaring inflation. However, the situation is foggy. Inflation may be a peak that will level off towards the end of the year. Partly because of this uncertainty, wages were negotiated in the technology industry only for this year. Next year’s salaries will be negotiated in the autumn, because the employers’ association wanted it and neither did the employees.

The industry association’s willingness to contract may have been increased by the desire to show the employer that the union-specific model works better than company-specific agreements – not to mention business-specific agreements.

The editorials are HS’s statements on a topical issue. The writings are prepared by HS’s editorial staff and reflect the magazine principle.

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