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Finland – (C5) Journalists’ job security

Score in short:

There are few specific legal provisions that apply only to journalists, but general legal provisions and labor contracts give journalists strong occupational protection.

Score in detail:

The Union of Journalists aims to improve the financial and professional position of its members and their work conditions, and to supervise their interests on the level of both collective bargaining and individual organizations. The labor agreements are extensive and terms of employment are generally complied with. The labor agreement also includes ethical counts. general legal provisions on employment and labor contracts give journalists with permanent contracts, like any other occupational groups, strong protections against dismissal because of personal convictions or any other arbitrary reasons. Collective labor agreements also specify periods of notice. The employer must always be able to demonstrate a financial or production-related reason for termination of employment contracts. The Union has also taken several dismissal cases to courts, which have generally ruled in favor of the journalists by awarding compensations or damages for undue dismissal.

According to the interviews, a professional practice of allowing journalists not to write against their personal convictions is also widely followed in the news media. The proportion of freelancers has increased, and currently around 12 % of the members of the Union of Journalists are freelancers. The use of short-term contracting varies between sectors of the media, but in general, short-term contracts, internships or freelance contracts are currently the only way of entering the profession.

As expected, the editors-in-chief interviewed did not consider the increasing proportion of freelancers or the use of short-term contracts to be a major problem in their organization. In Helsingin Sanomat, for instance, it was alleged that some 95 % of the content is produced by permanent staff. Some 200-300 jobs were slashed in the media sector because of the economic downturn. According to the Union of Journalists, the unemployment rate among journalists is currently around 4-5 %, although many of those who have lost their jobs become freelancers and do not show up in the statistics.