A SHORT INTRODUCTION TO FINNISH AVIATION UNION
ILMAILUALAN UNIONI IAU RY
IAU AND OUR WORKING ENVIRONMENT
IAU ry is a national trade union of about 3300 Finnish aviation employees. The main task of the union is to negotiate the terms and conditions of employment. Through this collective bargaining the union makes agreements and to help in solving the problems in the working life.
The trade union movement has connections with employers, the government and many other influential organizations in order to promote the interests of the workers. In addition to the issues in working life, the unions often have educational, cultural and recreational activities. Through the central organizations the unions can even make proposals according to nation-wide welfare, laws and social arrangements.
The Finnish unions are divided into three main lines:
- officials, higher technical staff and supervisors
- those with academic education
Each of them has their own central organization. IAU belongs to The Central Organization of Finnish Trade Unions SAK, the biggest central organization representing the workers, with its over 1 000 000 members in 22 different unions.
THE MEMBERS IN AU
About 80 % of the workers in the aviation business are in sphere of our union, in the different branches. The union itself consists of 7 branches, according to the jobs of the workers. The latest is the branch of Globe Ground workers.
Through their branches the workers can make proposals for the collective agreements and other issues of the union. The majority of the individual members are employed by Finnair and its subsidiaries and other airlines. Some of the technical workers are employed by government and work in the Finnish Airforce. In the airlines the members are mainly in passenger service and technical jobs, taking care of check-in, catering, freight, loading the planes and working in the maintenance department.
The membership fee is about 1,6 % of the salary. The fee is the source of financing of the union, for its activities and its own membership fees to the central organization and other organizations, salaries to the employees etc. Part of it is used for the branches´ own activities and for the unemployment office, IRKA, mainly for aviation and railroad employees.
The union office and the administration act as the central organ in the union. They are responsible of the most important agreements and the main actions belonging to the organization.
IAU has own office premises and employed workers in Helsinki, in the same building as the central organization SAK. Most of the union meetings take place there. The branches are allowed to use the rooms in the working place for casual meetings and the activities of the branches depend on the voluntary work of the active members.
The highest decision-making body is the election meeting of the representatives nominated by the branches. It elects every four years the chairman, vice-chair and the union secretary and makes decisions as to the main policy of the union.
The highest body between these meetings is the meeting of the branch representatives. The meetings are arranged usually twice a year. The executive committee is responsible for every day activities. The branches are represented in this committee as as well.
In the working places the shop-stewards play an important role defending the rights of the workers.
THE UNION AND THE AIRLINE
There has not been many strikes because the negotiating parties have been able to make satisfactory collective agreements in aviation, but the environment is changing and getting towards a more challenging one, where the bargaining parties are more opposite to each other.
The right of the employers to supervise the work is usually emphasized and maintained with care. The power of the employer is high, but not unlimited. It is restricted by agreements and laws, which protect the workers.
Even the employers, as Finnair, have their own organizations in order to make collective agreements with worker unions. Sometimes local agreements are made by the branches. The company takes care of many social tasks but only in that scale the law demands or allows. Through the workers funds the employees may get a part of the profit of the company, if there is any at the end of the year. The effect of the funds is, however, very limited.
The general agreements between the central organizations concerning co-operation and the obligation to negotiate before important decisions, can effect the position of the employees.
Co-operation between and in the unions is very important
The unions have clear tasks in the society. In the changing world even their role may change.
The airlines have found themselves in a situation of more and more increasing competition, which has already caused agreements of co-operation between some airlines, usually in the form of alliances. That is why international co-operation between workers of different airlines is necessary: through it we can work to avoid social dumpind for better future together.
World-wide solidarity actions are a very important part of union operations.
The basis for all of that is, that the employees in the aviation find their own union, and join the appropriate branch of it. The membership gives power to the common cause and makes it possible to take care of the members´ interests.
The union can negotiate, if there are enough members even in the new companies, which are separated from the main companies in aviation.The right to negotiate means maintaining the standard of our collective agreement, which as the main agreement in the aviation, has to be followed as the minimum standard in the terms of employment.