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Hanne Aho: collective bargaining talks at critical stage

UJF president Hanne Aho is concerned at the lack of progress in the current rounds of talks on the collective agreement covering the press, public broadcaster (Yle – the Finnish Broadcasting Company) and publishing industry.

There are only a few days of negotiations left as the current agreement expires 30 November. The press agreement’s employer’s side – represented by the Finnish Media Federation – cancelled the round of talks scheduled for last Friday, 24 November.

Aho explained the state of the various negotiations in a letter to the union’s members on 23 November.

The union president reported that the talks concerning the agreement for the press had stalled over issue of leave.  The employers want to shorten leave entitlement in various ways. This includes taking away winter holiday from employees using a one-off compensation payment, and by reducing leave entitlement for employees who switch jobs.

The latter would mean that leave entitlement would be determined by the length of time with the same employer and not according to the length of time in the profession. The proposals could mean that annual leave would be cut by up to three weeks.

Talks concerning publishing employees are also tackling the issue of efforts to cut holiday entitlement.

Aho vigorously defends the rights of employees to their current holiday rights.

“The employers think that the winter holiday is excessive and that it should be removed from the collective agreement. We totally disagree of course. We know that the weeklong winter holiday is really important for publishing editors, and that even monetary compensation is not sufficient.”

The union also aims to reach agreement at the publishing sector talks for a pay increase. The pay levels of publishing editors is lower than for the rest of the media industry

Aho wrote that the UJF’s aim is to reach an agreement on time, by the time the current agreement expires.

“Collective bargaining talks always involve both sides yielding on their own aims, but it’s impossible to reach agreement when the other side’s demands are unrealistic.”

The employer has said that there is no real scope for pay increases. Aho points out that the union’s proposal on increasing increases are in line with the general pay policy in the labour market. The union has not received the employer’s specific proposal on pay.

Aho also wrote that the talks concerning the public broadcaster Yle between the UJF and Service Sector Employers Palta have proceeded according to good negotiating practice, with talks being held almost every day. But here also the sides are still far apart on key issues. These concern working hours.

“The increase in the amount and scope of working hours proposed by the employer is sizeable compared with previous collective bargaining rounds. We cannot increase the amount of working hours or ‘flexibility’ proposed by the employer. We’ve made this clear to them.”

Collective bargaining for film and TV production and Mediahub Helsinki, which handles news production for MTV, have been delayed by a few weeks due to strike arbitration in the ICT sector. Talks are underway on the universal agreement concerning freelancers working for the public broadcaster.

The collective agreements covering temporary work for Mediaring and Sanoma radio broadcasting are linked to progress on the agreements covering production companies and the press.

The UJF council will meet 1 December to review the situation with the negotiations. Talks concerning audio-visual translation agencies will start 4 December.