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Industrial relations

The chemical industry is actively involved in building and developing the Finnish welfare state. We are part of the export industry, whose competitiveness is fundamental to our country’s success – now and in the future.

Work changes and so does the labour market

Exports bring affluence and jobs to Finland. In the chemical industry, we strongly believe in local agreements. The best decisions are often made locally and under conditions that create work for as many as possible. In the chemical industry, we believe in industry and company specific solutions. We want to give employees and companies more freedom and choice.

Smooth cooperation with our partners allows the whole industry to focus on the work to create a well-functioning labour market. We maintain confidence in the labour market through continuous cooperation with our partners. In the future, we will see the employee side develop more and more in accordance with the international trend. The development is already under way in Europe, which puts pressure on Finland as well. Merging organisations and fewer collective agreements are the future.

The chemical industry’s strong negotiation culture has been cultivated through close and longstanding collaboration. Negotiation relationships are reinforced through continuous dialogue. The role of ongoing negotiation becomes particularly pronounced when considering means to renovate collective labor agreements or the requirements of various workplace development projects. Local agreement also signifies the constant development of collaboration and expertise between employer and employee representatives at the local level. Together with its negotiation partners, the chemical industry is committed to supporting and enhancing the negotiation culture of parties at the company level, which contributes to the advancement of local agreements within the sector.

The labor market system is undergoing transformation. The majority of sectors still negotiate national collective labor agreements, while some sectors have transitioned into the realm of company-specific labor agreements. The world is changing, and the labor market system must be adaptable to change as well. Collaborative improvements are feasible, but there must be a shared willingness to innovate. The diverse needs of export industry companies to meet customer demands, respond to varying economic situations, and remain competitive necessitate flexibility and agility within the realm of labor agreements, alongside trust in the expertise of local negotiation parties, both now and in the future.

For our members: KemiaExtra

KemiaExtra is a site for our member companies and their staff. The site contains educational materials, guides and labour market guidance material.

Current labour market topics

Reliability of supply, product or service pricing, and quality constitute competitive factors that set a company apart from others on the global stage. Through effective workforce scheduling, operations can be efficiently organized to support changes in the business environment and align working hours with customer needs.

In workforce scheduling, timeliness, transparency, and continuity in relation to employees promote engagement and facilitate the emergence of optimal solutions. The role of a supervisor involves encouraging feedback and suggestions as a basis for decision-making. Leaders who employ a participatory management style typically have committed employees.

The foundations of workforce scheduling lie in customer behavior and its prediction, employees’ multi-skills, and the negotiation culture of the company. All local stakeholders must be familiar with the factors enabled by labor laws and collective agreements. For more information on these, you can access KemiaExtra, where you’ll find a guide to workforce scheduling, various workforce scheduling models, and cost calculations for different scheduling models (in finnish). Workforce scheduling models are also available on the shared “Yhteistä kemiaa” (in finnish) platform by Chemical Industry, Industrial Union, Trade Union Pro, and Professional and Managerial Staff YTN. Member companies can also request workforce scheduling training from Chemical Industry.

Changes in the operating environment, evolving customer needs, and shifts in the nature of work are challenging practices, leadership, and work culture. This necessitates compensation systems and reward development to emphasize motivation, consistency, and flexibility more strongly.

In almost all collective agreements within the chemical industry, compensation systems have been agreed upon. However, compensation systems in accordance with collective agreements allow companies a wide range of opportunities to adapt the system to support their own operations and strategies. For instance, multitasking might be a requirement for a certain role, wherein the assessment of job complexity takes into account this multitasking aspect. On the other hand, even in roles that require multitasking, someone might outperform others, enabling the use of individual performance bonuses to encourage higher qualifications and achievement.

Personnel from our member companies can log in to KemiaExtra to access up-to-date information on salary increases, compensation systems, rewards, links to training materials, as well as guidelines. Our workplace experts are available as part of our member services to assist in constructing compensation systems tailored to the specific needs of the company.

Employers purchase industrial peace through collective bargaining agreements. However, this trade-off is not always advantageous, as employees may engage in unlawful industrial action contrary to the terms of the agreement, despite their obligation to maintain industrial peace. Softening terms are coined for such unlawful actions, such as demonstrations, walkouts, overtime bans, or work stoppages. The labor side may consider that these terms make it easier to recruit participants for unlawful industrial action compared to directly addressing an illegal strike. Illegal strikes, and often even the mere threat of them, can result in significant financial damage to companies. The current system of industrial peace, which imposes a sanction of a purely nominal compensation fee of a thousand or a few thousand euros for illegal industrial action, requires urgent reform.

Industrial Peace Obligations in the Chemical Sector

Chemical Industry Federation has strengthened the observance of industrial peace by reaching agreements with the Industrial Union concerning procedural measures within their collective agreements pertaining to employees. These measures aim to prevent unlawful strikes. Such provisions are found, among others, in Section 4 (Binding Nature of the Agreement and Obligation to Maintain Industrial Peace) of the Basic Chemical Industry Collective Agreement as well as in the corresponding sections of the Plastic Products Industry and Chemical Product Industry Collective Agreements. Similar provisions are also present in other collective agreements concerning employees in the chemical sector.

Obligation to Notify of Threat to Industrial Harmony

According to these provisions, the trade union, shop stewards acting as representatives of the trade union, and the employer are obligated to maintain industrial harmony in the workplace. Upon becoming aware of a threat to industrial harmony, the trade union, shop stewards, or the employer must promptly bring the matter and all factors influencing its assessment to the attention of the unions. Additionally, local parties must refrain from any industrial action until the unions have addressed the matter.

Engaging in industrial action contrary to the obligation of industrial peace is prohibited.

Upon receiving the aforementioned notification, the unions that have agreed to the collective agreement must promptly ascertain the reason for the impending industrial action and, within twenty-four hours, provide their assessment to the local parties as to whether the impending industrial action is in violation of the Collective Agreement Act. If the unions determine that the industrial action would be in violation of the Collective Agreement Act, the industrial action must not be initiated. The local branch must adhere to the unions’ perspective and refrain from industrial action or, if a breach of industrial peace is already underway, decide to cease the industrial action and immediately restore industrial harmony.

Unions provide assistance in investigating the causes of potential disturbances to industrial peace.

In situations like this, unions are required to guide local parties in maintaining industrial peace. At the request of local parties, unions, along with the employer and the chief shop steward, will collaboratively investigate, within a period of three business days, the dispute that has jeopardized industrial peace. This investigation will determine the focus of the dispute and its underlying reasons, as well as the potential consequences of any impending industrial action.

Improving Compliance with Industrial Peace Obligations

The provisions concerning industrial peace in the collective labor agreements, as described above, have indeed succeeded in preventing the occurrence of numerous illegal work stoppages. However, the durability of industrial peace still requires further development. Disturbances to industrial peace persist in various sectors, including the chemical industry, albeit in small numbers. Each strike inflicts significant damage on the company and represents a breach of the agreed-upon terms of the labor agreement. Enhancements to industrial peace should extend beyond the realm of labor agreements to legislative measures. In addition to unlawful work stoppages directed at labor agreements, the right to engage in political work stoppages should be considerably restricted compared to the current situation, as should the right to sympathy strikes. Given that political work stoppages are permitted under current legislation, efforts are made to cloak unlawful strikes directed at labor agreements as political work stoppages as well.

In the Face of Threats to Industrial Peace

Should there be even the slightest hint of a strike within your company, it is advisable to promptly engage with the legal experts at the Chemical Industry to proactively prevent an unlawful strike or swiftly terminate an ongoing strike.

Salary statistics and information about the personnel in the chemical industry (numbers, education) can be found on our website here. Detailed salary information is available to members of Chemical Industry Finland through KemiaExtra.

The collective agreements established by the chemical industry provide several distinct opportunities to tailor the application of various provisions within the agreements to better suit the needs of the company and its personnel. This is referred to as local bargaining.

Summer jobs and internships in the chemical industry

The chemical industry is in constant need for new talent – from trained professionals to fresh and motivated students from different schools. Companies in the industry offer apprenticeships, internships and summer jobs. In 2023 the member companies of The Chemical Industry Federation of Finland had approximately 2500 summer jobs to offer. Are you the next newcomer to change the world?

The chemical industry offers a variety of summer job opportunities for elementary and high school students. The best way to find job openings is by contacting companies directly or checking out their websites. You can also do a short term internship for underaged students in the chemical industry.

The sector has its own training program (“Tutustu työelämään ja tienaa”) which offers hands-on work experience in the chemical industry, how companies operate, about different job functions and the job opportunities the industry has to offer. You can apply for summer internships directly through the companies. Internship periods last either two weeks or 10 working days. The summer internships take place between June 1 – August 31 in 2023-2025.

The chemical industry offers a variety of educational and working opportunities for vocational students. Kemianteollisuus tarjoaa monipuolisia opinto- ja uramahdollisuuksia ammatillisille osaajille – prosessiteollisuudesta lasinpuhallukseen ja laboratoriotyöhön. Myös oppi- tai koulutussopimuksella voi työllistyä kemianteollisuuteen. Voit kysyä lisää oppisopimus- ja koulutussopimuksista omalta oppilaitokseltasi tai olemalla yhteydessä suoraan sinua kiinnostavaan yritykseen.

From the Chemical Industry’s Summer Job Calculator, you can discover summer job opportunities within the field. We require professional expertise even during the summer months.

The chemical industry offers diverse and meaningful summer job and internship opportunities for university students. The work experience gained during your studies is a valuable part of your future career path. Through summer employment, you can find yourself working alongside your studies. For instance, conducting your thesis or dissertation for our industry is also a possibility.

You can find summer jobs, internships, as well as thesis opportunities in the chemical industry by directly contacting companies that interest you. The Chemical Industry Summer Job Calculator aggregates positions from industry companies onto a single page – check it out here! Your university can also assist you in finding a summer job or internship position.