Roughly 200,000 commerce workers have won a well-deserved pay increase in Finland through a new sectoral agreement negotiated by UNI affiliate PAM. The increase, which will be phased in over the next two years, will see the workers across the sector receive a raise of at least €165 a month and a one-off payment of €400. The move is expected to benefit workers across the retail and service sectors. 

The agreement was reached between PAM and the Finnish Commerce Federation on the night prior to a second wave of strikes in the sector. “The strikes that took place and those that were foreseen had a significant impact on reaching such a good result – all our commerce sector members deserve the credit,” said Annika Rönni-Sällinen. 

Pay scales are increased by over 6% of which the first year’s increase is 3.88% and the second year’s 2.14%. The pay increase will begin to come into effect on 1 June 2023. The agreement also included improvements to paid family leave, as the non-birthing parents get 36 days of paid family leave instead of the current 6 days.

International inspiration

PAM took inspiration from increases in Germany, where commerce workers’ union Verdi has previously won inflation-levelling pay hikes. This victory comes as unions across Europe—and the world—are demanding pay rises in the face of inflation.

“This is a victory for commerce workers across Europe,” said Oliver Roethig, Regional Secretary of UNI Europa. “This example shows how worker advances in one country can be leveraged to win collective agreements elsewhere. In an increasingly interdependent world, a vision that goes beyond border is crucial for building worker power. Together, we are building international strategies to reinforce unions and level up workers’ conditions,” he said. 

Through its European Power and Organising Centre (EPOC), UNI Europa works with affiliated trade unions like PAM to build strategies that combine worker engagement and strategic mapping to strengthen collective bargaining. Find out more here