Negotiations for a new collective agreement on universities’ terms and conditions of employment have begun. The current agreement is valid until the end of January.
The terms and conditions of employment and salaries have now been agreed for the first time in ten years union-specifically, without any guidelines offered by a central union agreement.
- This is great from JUKO’s point of view because, in addition to pay raises, it is now possible for us to have an impact on other issues that affect day-to-day working life, says Markku Kojo, Head of Negotiations at The Negotiations Organization for Academics in the Public Sector (JUKO).
Financial situation of universities has improved
The negotiations are overshadowed by the financial situation at universities. Since 2010, university staff numbers have decreased by approximately 10%. Some universities have been downsizing their staff for a number of years, others have made changes at a slower pace.
The financial issues that universities are facing are largely due to decreased public funding.
- According to the financial statements, the situation of universities has now in fact improved. The are no indicators that salaries within the academic sector should
be raised any less than those within the export industry, Kojo summarizes.
More time for research
One of JUKO’s primary goals is the clarification of working hour systems. The aim is to ensure that teaching and research staff have clearly defined periods within which they can focus solely on their research.
- The working hour system should better take into account the special characteristics of work in teaching and research. In the current, very ill-defined system, the restricting of teaching hours requires that a rule governing the maximum hours of teaching work remains fulfilled.
- The employer would prefer to stop monitoring the number of teaching hours altogether. On the other hand, we wish to clarify the amount of time taken up by teaching work as well as to call for more attention to the modern methods and techniques that considerably change the nature of teaching.
Many JUKO members work in positions other than teaching and research. JUKO wishes to improve their situation with modern working hour solutions, such as the possibility of working from home and the application of flexible hours.
General raises sought in pay raise negotiations
Kojo believes that during January’s negotiations battles will be fought particularly over pay raises and the working hour reform driven by the employer.
- The employer wishes to move responsibility for how salaries are determined to the local level. In their proposal for a new salary system, the part of salary determined by personal performance would not be negotiated according to the principles of local agreement, and the employer would instead determine who gets a raise in a unilateral manner, Kojo says.
- We feel there is no need to scrap the current salary system. The various issues with the current system are due to an inability or unwillingness to grant pay raises based on performance, Kojo points out.
JUKO calls for a general raise percentage granted to all employees equally.
Negotiations in universities
*The Negotiations Organization for Academics in the Public Sector