Know your Rights

Collective bargaining at the universities

The collective agreements are usually made for 2—3 years and are revised and bargained again after that. The current Collective agreement for the universities ends in the end of coming January. The new collective bargaining will begin this Fall and the bargaining will last untill a new agreement has been made, hopefully early next year. If the new agreement is not signed until the previous one ends, the previous agreement will still be followed until the new one comes into force.

The parties negotiating the collective agreement on behalf of the employees, are Juko ry (representing the academics on the public sector), JHL (the Trade Union for the Public and Welfare Sectors) and Pardia (the Federation of Salaried Employees). The members that belong to Juko ry are mostly part of the teaching and research staff and the informatics. The members of JHL and Pardia mostly work on the support staff (for example the universities’ administration). Juko ry has 18 300 members at the universities making it clearly the biggest representative on the employees’ side. Sivistystyönantajat ry (The Association of Finnish Independent Education Employers) negotiates on behalf of the universities.

Unlike the last round two years ago, this time there will be no agreements made collectively at national level to guide the more local negotiations. Last time the national collective, which was known as ”Kilpailukykysopimus” or ”kiky” provided several guidelines to all collective agreements that were aimed to help the Finnish economy get stronger and grow. This year all the collective agreements are drafted separately. There are many subjects on the table this year and the negotiations will not be easy. There will be discussion about the salaries, the salary system itself, teaching hours and the working hours system. Since the economy has improved since the last round, there will hopefully be more money on the table to for example help raise salaries. However completely changing the whole salary system will be a larger project. Also, discussions about the working hour systems will be a part of a longer dialogue.

There is still no schedule available for the bargaining. Usually the negotiations begin sometime during the Fall and the schedule gets more hectic towards the end.

As an extreme means to reach an agreement, there is always even the possibility of industrial action towards the universities, if the negotiations fail. This usually happens closer to the ending of the previous agreement.

Stay tuned for news about the collective bargaining throughout the Fall and beginning of next year. The trade unions and JUKO will post updates about the negotiations on their web page, and also on their membership e-mails.

text Mia Weckman
lawyer, the Finnish union of university researchers and teachers

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