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Trade unions

General information about trade unions

Finnish legislation secures an employee’s right to be a member of a trade union (ammattiliitto). This right cannot be restricted by any agreements. Discrimination of employees due to their membership in a trade organisation is a punishable offence.

Most Finns are members of some trade union. Trade unions strive to secure their members’ benefits and rights, work to improve wages and job security and to develop the quality of working life.

Employees’ associations have unionised under three employees’ central organisations. These are SAK, the Central Organisation of Finnish Trade Unions; STTK, the Finnish Confederation of Professionals and Akava, the Confederation of Unions for Professional and Managerial Staff in Finland.

linkkiSAK, STTK and AKAVA:
The ABC of the trade union movementFinnish | English | Russian | Estonian

linkkiConfederation of Unions for Professional and Managerial Staff in Finland, AKAVA:
Information on Trade Union activitiesFinnish | Swedish | English | Russian | Estonian | French

linkkiCentral Organisation of Finnish Trade Unions, SAK:
Information on Trade Union activitiesFinnish | Swedish | English

linkkiFinnish Confederation of Professionals, STTK:
Information on Trade Union activitiesFinnish

Joining a trade union and the membership fee

You can join a trade union in your own sector, if you like. You can join one by contacting a shop steward at your workplace or contacting a trade union directly. Most trade unions can be joined also by filling in an application form on the union’s website.

The members of a trade union pay the union a membership fee which is usually about 1-2% of their pay. You can deduct the membership fee from your taxes.

The members of a trade union can participate in training and leisure activities organised by the union. They also receive support from the union’s shop steward in conflict situations at work. When needed, the union also provides advice and help in negotiations.

Unemployment fund

In Finland, we have a voluntary unemployment fund system. An employee who is a member of an unemployment fund pays a membership fee to the unemployment fund while working. If the work finishes and they become unemployed, they can apply to the unemployment fund for earnings-related daily unemployment allowance. It pays to join an unemployment fund because the earnings-related daily allowance is greater than ordinary unemployment benefit.

When you join a trade union you can join the union’s unemployment fund. However, the trade union and unemployment fund are separate systems. There are also some unemployment funds which you can join without being a member of any trade union.

There are some conditions which have to be met before it is possible to receive an earnings-related daily allowance. For example, in order to receive it, you have to be a member for a certain time before becoming unemployed. Find out about these conditions immediately when you join an unemployment fund.

Read more on the Infopankki web page Unemployment benefit.

linkkiFederation of Unemployment Funds in Finland:
Information about unemployment fundsFinnish | Swedish | English

Representative of a trade union at the workplace

At workplaces, a trade union and its member workers are represented by a shop steward. The shop steward is elected by the workers. The shop steward acts as a negotiator, arbitrator and means of communication between the employer and employees. You can also ask a shop steward, for example, about issues related to the collective agreement.