• Bernhard Ebbinghaus
Part of the The Societies of Europe book series (SOEU)


Finland’s union movement has been marked by political splits, organizational fragmentation and conflictual labour relations. The labour movement emerged relatively late and was immediately politicized due to the late national independence from authoritarian Russia, the civil war and turbulent inter-war period and the delicate post-war relations with the neighbouring Soviet regime. Late and uneven industrialization, dominated by wood-related trades, kept unions decentralized and caused widespread strikes. The split between Social Democratic and Communist-led unions was not overcome until the late 1960s. In a historical central agreement, employer associations fully recognized unions, though it took much longer for workplace relations and local labour disputes to adjust accordingly. Since then, union membership has soared. Union securities—’check-off agreements with employers and union-run unemployment insurance-enabled unionization to reach high levels, matching its neighbour Sweden. Although some white-collar groups (public and commercial employees) were organized by the politically allied union movement (SAK), three white-collar union confederations emerged over the post-war period, organizing the lower white-collar grades (TVK), the foremen and supervisors (STTK), and the professionals (Akava), as in other Nordic countries. After the cessation of TVK, STTK has become the second largest white-collar union organization, while SAK still played the leading role in recent central income policy with employers and the government.


Labour Relation Unemployment Insurance Union Membership Labour Movement Union Movement 
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© Bernhard Ebbinghaus and Jelle Visser 2000

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  • Bernhard Ebbinghaus

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