Helsinki (10.03.2014 - Heikki Jokinen)
The target group is in particular trade union members.
”Our main job is to distribute basic information on the European Union and the upcoming elections and encourage people to vote”, says Hanna Kuntsi, who is working as the office director. ”The turnout in the last elections for the European Parliament five years ago was very low, only 40.3 per cent of Finns voted. Among wage and salary earners the percentage was even lower.”
This led to an idea in many of the trade unions that something had to be done to encourage their members to vote. This is easier to do in cooperation and all three confederations Akava, SAK and STTK have established a joint office.
The office and campaign web pages were officially opened on 10th March. The elections are on 25th May. The Campaign Office employs five full-time people and one part-timer. These people are on loan from the confederations and unions. Hanna Kuntsi is normally working for the Service Union United PAM and the Information Chief Ari Åberg for the Academic Engineers and Architects in Finland TEK.
Though the campaign is centred around the distribution of basic information on the EU, it focuses especially on themes which are important in working life. ”We have been preparing these themes for a long time”, Kuntsi explains.
”Our main message is that we want work, income and stability from the EU. Our demands to the EU Commission include a strategy for occupational health, support for those facing redundancies, a better working time directive and the right of unions to take class action suits. In the economic arena we demand more uniform corporate tax.”
The campaign is being run in many ways. In May it will visits six major cities with a campaign tent. Various programmes are planned for these visits, like meeting the candidates and discussion of important issues.
A special election questionnaire web page for the candidates will also be opened. They are asked to reply to various questions and outline how important the issues are for them personally. The user of the pages can then see the whole profile of a candidate and compare it with her or his own answers. The user can also come up with a list of candidates which are closest to his or her own views. Such web pages are very popular in Finland for all elections.
The campaign is, however, neutral, Hanna Kuntsi stresses. ”We do not support any specific candidates or parties. The unions may have their own candidates who they support.”
Campaign web page (in Finnish)