Pro’s collective agreement for salaried employees in the ICT sector expires 31.1.2020 and the negotiations for a new agreement begin at the end of this year. According to Vidar Hovland, the Policy and Project Officer at UNI Nordic ICTS who visited Pro earlier this week, from a Nordic perspective, winning the public opinion and supporting and encouraging the possible picketers is important for any negotiations, especially in conflict situations. In addition to formal support, as seen in January 2018 during the finance sector conflict, everyone can participate personally too, says Hovland.
— I encourage everyone to make short supportive videos to help the union during negotiations. It’s important for people to know that they are not alone in this. You can post it on the unions social media page or send it via email.
Hovland argues that this simple and cost-free action can have an enormous morale boost for the negotiators and members. Solidarity across borders and helping each other out through our networks is a natural part of union work.
As a Policy & Project Officer, the core of Hovland’s job is to bring together unions to act as one, in Europe and around the whole world. In addition to collective bargaining negotiation, union activists everywhere share the same grievances and struggles, Hovland says. He encourages people to join ranks to combat their shared challenges.
According to Hovland, one common struggle seems to be the need for upskilling. Many jobs are changing into tasks, and at the same time old jobs are steadily disappearing. Hovland explains that workers therefore need new skills and competence constantly and we need to increase spending on up-skilling, to keep people in the work force. Another goal, Hovland says, needs to be reducing stress and health issues caused by work.
— We need to continue to fund base research, that our businesses can profit from, in order to stay innovative and competing in the global market. Through our friends in UNI Europa and MEPs, we can find these types of common interest across the unions and nurture them into European policy. Especially in the ICTS sector, EU regulation impacts us significantly, Hovland states when asked about what the new EU Commission should aim at on the ICTS sector.
Hovland adds that the EU is great for doing research and finding possible solutions, but wants to remind us to also be watchful. The Nordic way of organizing our society is very different than that of other parts of Europe. Our Nordic model needs safeguarding from potentially harmful policies, such as the introduction of a European minimum wage. A Brussels set minimum wage is just not compatible with how we arrange our societies, Hovland concludes.
Vidar Hovland, a 30-year-old union expert, thinks we still need to go to the workplaces and talk about the importance of joining the union, the individual benefits and our collective strength. Nevertheless, he urges unions to keep constantly trying something new too.
— It has been said that the biggest reason why people haven’t joined the union is that they haven’t been asked to. That is why there needs to be people on the workplaces who do the asking. That being said, we also need new ways to organize our unions, Hovland sums up.
Hovland explains that we now have incredible tools we didn’t have 10 years ago, and we can reach almost anyone we want through for example Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat. Using these platforms is all about message, branding and knowing how the algorithms work to reach potential members. That’s why Hovland encourages unions to listen to their young members’ grievances and ideas, include their young activists in the decision-making processes and in developing the union strategies.
— Ultimately, if we are aiming to win tomorrow, we can’t base our strategies solely on the minds of yesterday, Hovland concludes.