Akava – Confederation of Unions for Professional and Managerial Staff in Finland

Akava, the Confederation of Unions for Professional and Managerial Staff in Finland, is a trade union confederation for those with university, professional or other high-level education.

31.05.2019
Akava, the Confederation of Unions for Professional and Managerial Staff in Finland, is a trade union confederation for those with university, professional or other high-level education.

Akava is continuously growing

Akava has 36 affiliates with altogether some 608 000 unionised members working as employees, entrepreneurs and self-employed professionals in either the public or private sector. The members join one of Akava’s affiliates based on their field of study, degree, profession or position.

The members of all Akava affiliates typically serve in management or expert positions in fields such as education, technology or medicine. Additionally, Akava has more than 100,000 student members.

In Finland, approximately 70 per cent of all highly educated citizens are members of one of Akava’s affiliates.

Membership in the affiliates of Akava is based on a particular degree or profession. The admission criteria vary from one affiliate to another.

Akava affiliates are also open to all university students and most Polytechnic students. In fact, the number of student members is considerable: Akava’s Student Council represents more than 100 000 students.

Akava members work in various management, expert and teaching positions, and they are highly educated experts in their field. One third of Akava members hold managerial or leading positions.

Most Akava members hold full-time jobs and are employed by the private sector.  Of Akava members, more than 50 % are women.

Collective Agreements

Akava watches over the shared financial, professional, educational and other social interests of its members, as well as safeguarding their status and prestige in society. Akava is politically unaffiliated and independent of any political party.

Akava’s central tasks include a general watching over of its members’ interest in society. Akava lobbies decision-makers in the fields of taxation, labour, education and social policy, among others. The lobbying is supported by research and training, as well as local, regional and national activity and publicity work.

As regards collective agreements in the public sector, Akava’s collective bargaining mandate is held by Negotiation Organisation for Public Sector Professionals JUKO. In the private sector, the negotiating body is the Federation of Professional and Managerial Staff  (YTN), even though certain affiliates negotiate independently.

Regional Activity

Akava is active on several levels. It aims to improve the status of its members through nationwide activity, but the importance of the regional level is also considerable. The regional activity is organised through networks.

International Dimensions

European integration strives towards the single labour market. The social partners negotiate unionwide agreements on employment conditions. Akava is active in the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), and especially its division Eurocadres, which looks after professional and managerial staff. Finnish trade union federations operate a joint office in Brussels. Moreover, Akava’s representative is a member of the European Economic and Social Committee.

Akava’s international activities extend beyond the European Union. Akava co-operates with all the Nordic countries, the Baltic countries and Russia. Akava is also a member of OECD’s Trade Union Advisory Committee (TUAC), the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) and of the Finnish ILO Committee.

Collective Bargaining Organisation at Akava

  • Public Sector Negotiating Commission (JUKO)
  • Federation of Professional and Managerial Staff (YTN)

Akava’s student council

Akava’s student council represents the students’ voice in Akava decision-making and beyond the central organisation. It is Finland’s largest labour market organisation for students with more than 100,000 student members.

The student council serves as a subordinate unit to the Board of Akava and involves all Akava affiliates that have student activities.

The primary task of Akava’s studen council is to put forth the student perspective within Akava’s decision-making processes and policies. Additionally, Akava’s student council advances the common national interests of university students and students of universities of applied sciences, as well as of newly graduated degree students.

The supervision of interests assumed by Akava’s student council covers, in particular, the training, labour force and social political issues related to the working life of highly educated students.

Basic facts

  • Akava is a politically independent trade union confederation for those with a university, professional or other high level education
  • Half of the membership works in the private sector, half in the public sector.
  • Also those with high-level education join a trade union in Finland. More than 80 percent of Akava members have completed at least the lower university degree.
  • The members join one of Akava’s affiliates based on their field of study, degree, profession or position.
  • Unionisation has a long tradition in Finland, and it is normal for employees to belong to trade unions in Finland. Approximately 75 per cent of Finnish employees are members of a trade union.
  • In Finland, labour market organisations have a great deal of influence. Negotiations on salaries, wages and labour legislation are conducted between the government and the representatives of employees and employers organisations, which is referred to as the tripartite system.
  • Freedom of organisation is a statutory right in Finland. No-one can be coerced to join a union. Employment may not be terminated on the basis of membership in a trade union.
  • Membership in an Akava affiliate is not dependent on a specific workplace. If you change jobs, you can continue your membership in an Akava affiliate.