Finnish labor deal could be clinched next week: Rehn

Reuters News
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Posted: Mar 11, 2016 9:57 AM

HELSINKI (Reuters) - Finland's government sees good prospects for unions and employers' representatives to reach a comprehensive labor reform deal next week, Economic Affairs minister Olli Rehn said on Friday.

A handful of Finnish unions have opposed a proposed labor pact, a centerpiece of government efforts to haul the economy decisively out of recession by making exports more competitive.

Rehn, in an interview with Reuters Global Markets Forum, said: "We have a good chance of concluding the comprehensive deal next week, and we are working on that."

The unions and business lobbies have continued talks this week on a new wage talks model where the export sector, rather than the public sector, will in future set the basis for annual wage rounds.

Rehn said if all unions agreed, the government could sweeten the deal. "That facilitates withdrawing the conditional expenditure cuts and provides pretty good conditions for compensatory tax cuts."

The overall agreement, calculated to yield 35,000 new jobs, would increase annual working hours, lower holiday bonuses, freeze wages for a year, and increase pension contributions for workers and lower them for employers.

The Finnish economy grew by just 0.4 percent last year after three years of contraction, and is expected to expand by 0.5 percent this year, less than any other country in the European Union except Greece.

(Reporting by Jussi Rosendahl and Tuomas Forsell; Editing by Ruth Pitchford)