The collective agreement negotiations will begin with both parties presenting their overviews of the sector and proposed changes to the collective agreement. For the Finnish Commerce Federation, the negotiations are led by Labour Market Director Anna Lavikkala.
The coronavirus pandemic has treated commerce sector operators very differently. In general, the daily consumer goods trade has performed well, while a large number of speciality shops, such as clothing, shoe, and book shops, have been severely affected by the pandemic, which has lasted for two years already. The number of active commerce sector companies decreased clearly, especially in the speciality goods trade, in 2020.
“This polarisation has had an extraordinarily big impact on the starting position of the negotiations. The situation is considerably more difficult than it was two years ago, during the last negotiations before the pandemic. The challenge here is to find a solution for the very different situations of companies in the commerce sector that will also allow speciality goods shops to survive in the changed post-pandemic circumstances,” Lavikkala emphasises.
The pandemic has changed the nature of commerce and strongly highlighted international competition, the needs of fast-growing e-commerce, and the 24/7 shopping behaviour of customers. For example, according to the payment service provider Klarna, Sunday evening from 9 to 10 pm is the busiest online shopping time of the week for Finns.
“PAM and we now have the golden opportunity to show that by negotiating together we can renew the commerce sector’s collective agreement, while also taking all this into account,” Lavikkala says.
Commerce is a significant employer and important for the economy
The diverse commerce sector includes companies ranging from grocery stores to speciality goods stores and technical wholesalers as well as from small kiosks to international listed companies. The daily consumer goods trade accounts for about one half of retail trade and the speciality goods trade for about a third.
Approximately one half of the VAT-exempt prices in commerce are direct and indirect wage costs. The rise in the level of wages in society as a whole puts high pressure on commerce in terms of costs. A good way of containing inflation and safeguarding the purchasing power of wage earners is to reduce taxes on earned income.
Commerce is the largest employer in the economy and accounts for around 10 per cent of GDP. Commerce directly employs around 270,000 people, but the impact on employment almost doubles in terms of orders, purchases and investments from other sectors. Nearly equivalent numbers of women and men work in the commerce sector. The proportions of full-time and part-time employees have stayed essentially the same for the last decade. According to Statistics Finland’s statistics, 71 per cent of employees in the commerce sector work at least 35 hours a week.
The Finnish Commerce Federation’s Negotiating World website is at your disposal
Background information on collective agreements and the negotiations related to them has been compiled on the Negotiating World website of the Finnish Commerce Federation. In the negotiations log we release general information on the progress of the negotiations.
The Federation’s principle is to negotiate bilaterally with the Service Union United PAM in order to secure peaceful negotiations. Details about the collective agreement objectives or negotiations will not be made public.
The current Collective Agreement for the Commercial Sector is valid until 31 January 2022. However, after the expiry of the current collective agreement and before the entry into force of the new collective agreement, the provisions of the expired agreement will be applied.
Visit Negotiating World here.
Anna Lavikkala, Labour Market Director, photographs for media use here