Helsinki (19.06.2013 - Heikki Jokinen)
Employees at a Finnish company Moventas Gears were told in January that all 635 employees would be temporarily laid off after mandatory consultation with regard to possible temporary lay-offs. Following this consultation the company took the decision to lay off all employees for 2–12 weeks.
Moventas Gears produce gears for industry and wind power stations. It has 970 employees, most of them in Finland. The owner of the company is Clyde Blowers, the Scottish industrial engineering group headed by entrepreneur Jim McColl.
The Metalworkers' Union shop steward Janne Rummakko at the Moventas Jyväskylä factory was at a loss to understand what was happening. "Before Christmas we were told that there will be no temporary lay-offs, as there is so much work", he explains to the journalist Aino Pietarinen in an interview for the Palkkatyöläinen magazine of the trade union confederation SAK.
At the same time people were doing overtime. "If we are to be temporarily laid off there will be delays in production and customers will be left without our products. This is not good PR for the company."
Hotel Hilton meeting
Janne Rummakko was wondering whether the owner knows what is happening in Finland and sent a personal e-mail to Jim McColl. "Within half an hour his secretary was calling me saying that the owner would like to meet me personally." They met one week later at the Hilton Hotel at Helsinki airport. The owner flew in on his personal plane for the meeting.
The two men discussed the situation at the factory for about an hour. "I discovered that the owner had somewhat incomplete information about the Finnish system concerning temporary lay-offs. Jim thought that the bureaucracy would take several months." The Metalworkers' Union provided an interpreter, as Janne Rummakko was a bit unsure of the terminology in English.
It was a good discussion and an opportunity to exchange fruitful information, Janne Rummakko tells Palkkatyöläinen. "Jim was impressed that I dared to write him. No one had done that before. Sometimes it is good to use slightly unorthodox methods, and in this case it was worth it."
Two weeks later the temporary lay-offs were cancelled. Janne Rummakko wishes to stress that the Finnish factory management, and not the Scottish owner, made this decision.