In 2007 the Finnish employers’ confederation withdrew from the comprehensive tripartite, multi-sector bargaining system, a step which had been taken by the Swedish employers’ federation 17 years earlier. In Sweden, it signalled to some extent the demise of the so-called Swedish model. In Finland, by contrast, Finnish employers organised in EK and here especially the Federation of Finnish Technology Industries, which represents Finnish export companies, did not succeed in enforcing company level bargaining and, thus, more flexibility in wage structures. Instead, a sectoral collective bargaining system, giving sectoral trade unions significant power, was established. How can we understand this failure in comparison to the more successful attack of the Swedish employers in the 1990s? In this blog post, I will argue that the far lower degree of transnationalization of production in Finland explains to some extent why the attack on the established class compromise happened much later than in Sweden and has been less successful. Nevertheless, I will also conclude that trade unions must remain vigilant in their protection of the welfare state as further attacks are likely.
|Photo by Christopher Neugebauer|
|Photo by the_girl|
|Photo by Zache|
In October 2011, the Swedish employers’ confederation EK and the trade unions, with the strong support of the government, reached a national, multi-sector framework agreement on pay and conditions and several social reforms in areas including unemployment insurance and parental leave. Considering, however, continuing disagreements between employers and trade unions over how to implement key aspects of this agreement, the indications are that this reversal of developments will only be temporary. A re-emergence of full neo-liberal restructuring pressures is highly likely. Finnish trade unions must remain vigilant in their protection of the welfare state (see also Finnish trade unions in changing times – Part II). Trade union unity remains essential in Finland in order to resist neoliberal restructuring.
This blog post is based on the article
Bergholm, Tapio and Andreas Bieler (2013) ‘Globalisation and the erosion of the Nordic model: A Swedish – Finnish comparison’, European Journal of Industrial Relations, Vol.19.
Prof. Andreas Bieler
Professor of Political Economy
University of Nottingham/UK
Personal website: http://andreasbieler.net
15 February 2013