Know your Rights

New Working Group Focusing on Fixed-term Employment Contracts
A new working group working under the General Collective agreement for Universities was set to tackle the vast amount of fixed-term contracts at the Universities.

The working group consists of eight members, two from the employer party Finnish Education Employers (FEE) and six from the employee parties; four from JUKO, one from the Trade Union for the Public and Welfare Sectors (JHL) and one for the Federation of Salaried Employees (Pardia). The working group began its work in last December and will be in place until the end of May.

The working group was set to consider the large amount of fixed-term employment contracts used by the universities. Approximately 70% of the teaching and research staff is working under fixed-term employment contracts, eventhought the Employment Contracts Act clearly states that the fixed-term contract is the exception to the rule of permanent employment contracts and always requires a legally valid reason. The number of fixed-term contracts is not quite as high for the other staff, but there are also a lot of employees working unnecessarily under fixed-term contracts there also.

The working group will examine the use of fixedterm contracts throughout the Finnish universities, update the previously made guide to good practices for the universities regarding the use of fixed-term contracts and also try to come up with different ways to diminish the amount of fixed-term contracts used by the universities both for the teaching and research staff and the other staff. The working group has thus far convened a few times and has set up a schedule until the end of May, when the working group’s work should he finished.

JUKO has already gathered information from the chief shop-stewards about the amounts and practices regarding the use of fixed-term contracts in different universities in Finland and the employer party has also promised to gather up the same information from the universities administrations. The working group will then go through the data. The working group is set to educate both the employer’s and the employees’ side on the correct use of the fixed-term contracts and will also follow the development of the use of the fixed-term contracts for several years to come. The employees’ parties are very excited about this working group and hope to see some concrete changes in the use of the fixed-term contracts at the universities in years to come.

“Stable conditions for creative work must be ensured for universities”

The union meeting of the Finnish Union of University Researchers and Teachers elected Maija S. Peltola PhD as president for 2019–2020. Peltola (44) is an Assistant Professor of Phonetics at the University of Turku.

The autumn union meeting also discussed and approved the higher education and science policy programme for 2019–2023. The programme will cover the next government term and focus on the issues that are of key importance to the union’s members.

—Stable conditions for creative work must be ensured for universities. Everyone should have the opportunity to concentrate on the key aspects of their work. The Vision for higher education aims to make universities the best workplaces in Finland. At the moment, we still have a long way to go before this goal is reached. Good personnel policy does not cost any more than bad personnel policy, but good personnel policy will lead to better results. There is research to back this up, says Peltola.

The autumn union meeting, which took place in Vantaa on Saturday, also elected Mikko Jakonen, university lecturer at the University of Jyväskylä, and Tero Karjalainen, Research Manager at the University of Eastern Finland, as vice presidents.

text Mia Weckman
lawyer, the finnish union of university researchers and teachers

Painetussa lehdessä sivu 42