PAM’s Selin: Government has the wrong medicine for improving employment – it will increase inequality and is ineffective
The cutbacks in job security proposed by the Sipilä government, which in PAM’s opinion are dangerous, will not promote employment and treat young people and those working in small workplaces unfairly. Undermining job security is an old-fashioned way of trying to increase companies’ competitiveness. Selin points out that a fixed term employment contract is binding: it cannot be terminated like permanent employment.
“The government’s plans to undercut job security treat young people and employees in small workplaces unfairly. This is also morally wrong. It is really outdated thinking to imagine that these actions will increase employment”, states Ann Selin, President of Service Union United PAM.
In Selin’s opinion, it is a common misconception that the problems of low rates of employment among the young long-term unemployed are caused by inflexible structures in working life. In her opinion, matching jobseekers and vacancies largely comes down to the quality of the jobs on offer and skills deficits.
“Hiring and firing workers is not significantly more difficult in Finland than in other countries. Therefore the government’s reasoning for changing the ground rules are driven by emotion rather than facts”, Selin says.
Selin stresses that shifting employers’ risks to employees is an ineffective way of improving employment. Modern companies thrive by investing in their employees, and by trusting and valuing them. Having employees who are satisfied with and committed to their employer is a precondition for remaining competitive.
“The remedies offered by the government to support company activity and improve employment are a delusion. Weakening protection against dismissal is only bound to increase dismissals. Liberalising regulations on fixed-term contracts is only bound to increase the share of precarious employment”, Selin states.
Terminating an employment contract other than for financial or production-related reasons is already perfectly possible in Finland. Fixed-term contracts, however, may not generally be terminated during the contract period.
“It is self-deception to imagine that a fixed-term employment contract is more risky for an employer than a permanent contract of indefinite duration”, Selin says.
Last year over 50 per cent of new jobs were fixed-term contracts. Young people and women often work in odd jobs against their will. The hundreds of disputes that PAM deals with each year show that the mistreatment of employees is commonplace.
“If the reasons for dismissal are loosened, it is possible that underpaying for example will increase. Would you dare to demand decent wages if there is a risk of your employment being terminated”, Selin asks.
Rather than punishing young people and lowering the dismissal threshold, Selin urges the government to search for alternatives that encourage companies to focus on quality, development and hiring workers in permanent, proper jobs.
“The government can choose whether to punish people or to create opportunities, for example for supporting individual development. Investments in skills are the basis of a functioning society. Increasing exports and the competiveness of services should be put at the centre of government. These measures would have a more lasting effect on employment and would be more motivating for employees than some gimmicks carried out for flimsy reasons,” Selin states.