News / 14.05.2013

Journalists and employers strife to head off strike

The Conciliator General Esa Lonka is leading the negotiations trying to bridge a wide gulf between the two parties, whose central disagreement is over pay rise.

The UJF issued a strike warning two weeks ago after five weeks of collective agreement negotiations with VKL ended in a stalemate.

But fresh negotiations which resumed last week are still fraught; the gulf between the parties has still not been bridged. VKL has offered a salary increase of just 0.5 per cent which UJF have turned down as insufficient. Besides that VKL would like the pay rise to be negotiated at the enterprise level and not by the unions, but according to UJF, such an agreement would only benefit a few people and would not cover everyone, contrary to UJF’s wishes.

Due to the wide gulf between VKL and UJF, Lonka is working on a proposal to be presented to the parties which neither of them would have the option to make changes. It would be a take-it-or leave-it proposal, according to people familiar with the negotiations. However, they say such a proposal would be difficult and it is not certain whether Lonka would succeed in pulling it off.  

Lonka is expected to offer his proposals to the negotiating parties by Thursday but if it fails to produce a consensus, the strike warning announced two weeks ago would commence on Friday. It would affect nearly half of all newspapers, and involving about 2 300 journalists.

To counter the strike warning issued by UJF, VKL has also announced a lock-out of workers from all premises of its member publications next Monday, including publications such as weekly magazines and small local newspapers which are not targeted by the strike action.

And in the midst of all that hectic negotiations Ilkka Media Group has decided to throw a spanner in the works. The Group has announced it will begin co-determination negotiations with its entire staff of 320 on job cuts in spite of profit earning of 2.3 million Euros this year.

Arto Nieminen, president of UJF has accused Ilkka of scare tactics, saying by choosing to announce job cuts at the very moment when crucial trade union negotiations are in progress, it intends to pile pressure on the journalists’ union to cave in to VKL’s demands.

“By giving a signal that there will be possible job cuts Ilkka’s action is trying to force us to accept the terms which VKL is offering and withdraw our strike”, he said.

On the other hand it is also aimed at putting pressure on the local shop stewards to influence UJF in the negotiations, said Nieminen.


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