Municipal workers reach new pay and conditions deal

Some staff, including nurses, had been working without a contract since before the start of the coronavirus crisis.

File picture showing interior of Töölö Hospital, Helsinki / Credit: News Now Finland

Thousands of workers in the municipal sector, including some teachers, nurses and other  healthcare workers, will be covered by a new collective bargaining contract after unions and employers struck a deal on Thursday.

The agreement comes after long negotiations and means that staff, some who have been on the front line of the coronavirus epidemic, will see a pay increase of 3.04% in total over the course of a 23-month contract period – broadly in line with other public service employees.

However there is concern for the future of municipal workers in particular, as municipalities face a financial crisis, exacerbated by the economic impact of the coronavirus situation.

“However the solution according to the general line was a labour market reality that we can live with” says Kirsi-Marja Lievonen from the Local Government Employers Association KT.

“I believe that the solution now reached will bring the necessary stability and predictability to the municipal sector in times of crisis” says KT’s Markku Jalonen.

Two unions representing Finland’s nurses already signed up to the new agreement. They wanted to include a pay bonus for staff working with coronavirus patients but this was not included in the end for financial reasons.

The new contract is retroactively enforced, backdated to 1st April this year and runs through until the end of February 2022.