On 3 September 2020, the Labour Court has given its decision in the dispute regarding Suomen Kotidata and its applicable collective agreement. According to the decision, Suomen Kotidata Oy can continue to comply with the Collective Agreement for the Commercial Sector that the company has complied with until now. The company is a member of the Finnish Commerce Federation and, based on that membership, the Collective Agreement for the Commercial Sector is applied in the company. The business operations of Suomen Kotidata are based especially on the sales of devices and software to consumers and related installation and support services. According to the decision of the Labour Court, the Collective Agreement for the Commercial Sector can be complied with in all employment relationships of Suomen Kotidata employees.
Trade Union Pro has pressurised the company to comply with an ICT industry collective labour agreement that is not suitable for its operations, and Pro has organised repeated strikes at Suomen Kotidata in July and August. There was an attempt to conciliate the second strike with the National Conciliator. An opportunity to postpone the strike in accordance with the Act on Mediation in Labour Disputes was raised at the conciliation, but it would have required the approval of all parties.
Trade Union Pro organised a third, unlawful strike lasting a week that Pro expanded to some member companies of Service Sector Employers Palta while Suomen Kotidata was waiting for the Labour Court’s decision on the correct collective labour agreement.
The Finnish Commerce Federation believes the clear and expected decision of the Labour Court now finally indicates that Pro’s actions have been completely unfounded and unreasonable.
“It is very alarming that an SME can be bludgeoned like this when it is complying with legislation and tries to solve the issue. The issues in the Finnish system of industrial peace were proved to be true in a very rough way. Pro’s will to forcefully expand the ICT industry’s collective labour agreement to a commerce sector company was in the background,” says Anna Lavikkala, Labour Market Director at the Finnish Commerce Federation.
“In these difficult times, when the aim is to strengthen employment, it is irresponsible to exhaust an SME that employs people regionally by pressurising and repeating unlawful surprise strikes,” continues Lavikkala.
It is important for the functionality and credibility of the labour market and the legal system that Pro honours the Labour Court’s decision, and that the decision finally brings industrial peace to Suomen Kotidata.
“From the outset, our goal has been for the company to resolve any possible issues in employment relationships directly with its personnel. The Finnish Commerce Federation is committed to helping Suomen Kotidata and its personnel in untangling the knots so that the company can soon return to its normal and functional working life,” Lavikkala concludes.
What does the dispute concern?
- The Finnish Commerce Federation became aware of the dispute on the applicable collective labour agreement at Suomen Kotidata Oy in the spring 2020 after the company disclosed Trade Union Pro’s requirement that the company should comply with the collective agreement for the ICT sector negotiated by Pro and Service Sector Employers Palta.
- The Finnish Commerce Federation investigated the matter with Service Sector Employers Palta, which negotiates the collective agreement for the ICT sector. According to Palta, the collective agreement for the ICT sector cannot be applied to the operations of Suomen Kotidata.
- The personnel of Suomen Kotidata walked out of their place of work on 22–27 July 2020 without advance notification. According to the Finnish Commerce Federation’s understanding, the unlawful walkout was organised by Pro.
- The Finnish Commerce Federation made a request to the police for the investigation of an unlawful strike. The strike was unlawful because Pro did not report it to the National Conciliator and the other party 14 days in advance in accordance with the Act on Mediation in Labour Disputes.
- Pro has not made the Finnish Commerce Federation aware of any individual claims regarding the payment of salary or the terms and conditions for working, for instance. Instead Pro has made wild allegations on the operations of Suomen Kotidata to its partners. Pro has stated that it will only discuss its demands after Suomen Kotidata agrees to comply with the collective agreement for salaried employees in the ICT sector.
- Pro has made in public different unfounded claims and allegations on the company’s operations.
- Suomen Kotidata and the Finnish Commerce Federation have always been willing to clarify all possible employment questions related to individual employees.
- In accordance with the Act on Mediation in Labour Disputes, Pro delivered an advance notification to the National Conciliator and the Finnish Commerce Federation on the next work stoppage on 12–14 August 2020.
- The Finnish Commerce Federation, Suomen Kotidata and Pro engaged in conciliation negotiations with the National Conciliator on 3–7 August 2020.
- At the end of the conciliation, the National Conciliator decided that no conciliation proposal can be made on the case before the applicable collective labour agreement has been resolved by the Labour Court.
- At the conciliation with the National Conciliator an opportunity to postpone the industrial action in accordance with the Act on Mediation in Labour Disputes was raised, but it would have required the approval of all parties.
- The Finnish Commerce Federation hastened the resolution of the issue and filed an action for declaratory judgment with the Labour Court on 13 August 2020 on the suitability of the Collective Agreement for the Commercial Sector at Suomen Kotidata Oy.
- Pro organised a second unlawful walkout without an advance notification at Suomen Kotidata on 24–28 August 2020 even though the parties were still waiting for a decision from the Labour Court.
- Pro organised support strikes also at Service Sector Employers Palta’s member companies Rainmaker Customer Experience on 26 August 2020 and Elisa and Telia Finland on 27 August 2020.
- On 3 September 2020, the Labour Court stated in its decision that the Collective Agreement for the Commercial Sector can be applied to all the employment relationships of Suomen Kotidata Oy’s employees.
- The Labour Court’s resolution is final and no appeals can be made.
For further information, please contact: Anna Lavikkala, Labour Market Director, the Finnish Commerce Federation, tel. +358 (0)400 406 088, firstname.lastname@example.org