Shop steward

A working, open and mentally healthy work community is based above all on trust. At the work place one should be able to trust the boss and the work mates, but also one’s own shop steward that works as the representative for the employees, the defender of the benefits and if necessary also the spokesman.

Who do you trust in working life? Take part in the Jyty competition and tell us who deserves your trust!

The shop steward is the expert of the work community, and she/he works as your and Jyty’s representative at your work place, and this work is based on trust. The Jyty shop steward network is comprehensive and our entire member service is strongly based on it. The shop steward’s task is to see to it that the employer follows agreements and work relationship regulations. The shop steward is the person that the employees belonging to Jyty have elected through direct elections and she/he works as a representative for only the organized employees. Because of this the employees are encouraged to organize in the union that negotiates their collective agreements. Unorganised employees do not have a representative in the agreement and negotiation activities or in the representative cooperation.

The role of the shop steward has been emphasized further by the fact that the agreement activities more and more have been transferred to a local level.

The shop steward has been provided time to handle the trusteeship tasks side by side with the work tasks and this time is stipulated according to the number of employees represented. Normally the shop steward is paid a shop steward compensation on top of the normal salary and the shop steward has a statutory, specially defined unemployment protection.

If there are several shop stewards working for the same employer, for instance in different departments or offices, a head shop steward that represents all the employees is elected. Depending on the number of represented persons, the head shop steward works full time with the shop steward tasks.

The shop steward is also, based on the collective agreement, entitled to receive information regarding the employees’ position as well as use space, phones and copying machines etc at the work place when handling her/his tasks.

More information about the shop stewards’ training on the Training page.

You find more information about shop steward elections in the Material Bank of OmaNetti.

The tasks of the shop steward

The task of the shop steward is in the first place to monitor that agreements are followed and that the legal protection is not broken. The shop stewards have many developing roles of the work place. The shop stewards advice the implementation of the employment system.

The agreement activities of late have more and more  moved from a national level to a local level and in the local agreements the shop steward’s, and especially the head shop steward’s, role is of special importance – without the shop steward it is difficult or impossible to make local agreements. A new shop steward had better find out where to get previous local agreements and familiarize herself/himself with them.

Monitoring the benefits of the employment relationship

• Monitors that the work legislation as well as employment collective agreements are followed, negotiates disputes if needed.
• Handles the members’ lay-off and notice cases.
• The shop steward supervises the implementation of the industrial peace.

Developer of the employment relationship

• Participates in the negotiation activities and making of local agreements at the work places.
• Promotes cooperation between the employer and the staff.

Developer of the work place activities

• Influencing matters connected to the work of the members.
• Negotiation and meeting activities at the work place.
• Contact to the union’s other actors at different levels.
• Also matters regarding spare time.
• Provides information and messages between parties.
• Participates in arranging occupational health and safety election, if needed.
• Is normally part of the cooperation body at the work place.

Helps members

• With individual work agreement and work relationship matters.
• Gives advice, counsels, who can one ask?
• Listens to the member.
• Gives information about current trusteeship matters to both the branch and the members.

​The work tasks of the shop steward are diverse, and the variety of matters to handle is broad. The most common matters given to the shop steward regard the themes below, though.

The Jyty shop stewards 

There is a great amount of staff representatives all around Finland’s work places. About 2000 of them are shop stewards. In the Jyty member research 64% of those who answered said that they were either shop stewards themselves or had one representing them at the work place. According to the Jyty members the most important tasks of the union movement are to develop the working conditions, to develop the work health, to protect jobs and increase the staff’s influential possibilities at the work places. The Jyty shop stewards are doing important work to achieve all these things at Finnish work places.

The Jyty shop stewards feel that the most important elements of their own work as shop stewards are among other things following agreements, an atmosphere of trust, staff health and the functionality of the information flow.

If you do not know who your representative at your work place is yet, you can in the first place ask your work mates and have a look at the work place bulletin board or other information channels. You can contact your own branch or your own regional office. By phoning the Jyty member service you can also find out the name and contact details of your representative.

Organisation executive Mika Periaho is in charge of the shop steward activities at Jyty. In trusteeship questions the shop steward should firstly contact her/his own regional office.

The support and competence of the shop steward

Jyty offers their shop stewards different training through all the shop steward career stages, in order to get the best possible support for the local trusteeship. Training is paid agreement training, in other words the employer pays salary for the training days in question and the union the course costs (travel, food, accommodation and education).

The shop stewards and the vice shop stewards are entitled to participate in shop steward courses. The employer needs to have a motivated reason not to let the shop steward participate in the course, and in unclear cases the union should be contacted.

The basic studies for shop stewards are intended for new shop stewards and those that have been away for a long time.

At the shop steward theme courses you deal with a specific theme in greater detail with the help from experts and normally in smaller groups. The subject of the theme courses can be for instance the handling of problem situations at the work place, assessment of the work challenge, staff policy, negotiation skills or work legislation.

At the shop stewards and chairmen negotiation days we concentrate on regional and current matters. You can participate only in negotiation days in your own region.

Cooperation and occupational health and safety courses are intended for staff representatives working with cooperation and occupational health and safety. At the theme seminars you go into the theme in question in greater detail. The head shop stewards and shop stewards are also entitled to take part in the courses in question.

More information in Jyty’s training calendar. 

Shop steward glossary

​​​Shop steward:

​A person elected by the members of the organisation in question and that handles matters of the staff at the work place.

​Head shop steward:

​If several shop stewards are employed by the same employer in for instance different departments or offices, a head shop steward is also elected to represent all the employees. Depending on the number of people represented, the head shop steward works full time in the role of shop steward, ie she/he is a head shop steward as her/his main occupation.

​​Cooperation body:

​The cooperation activities are influencing the decision making. The cooperation law gives the Jyty members a possibility to influence the decision making of their own work and working conditions.

At the cooperation proceedings they negotiate, information is given between the members and the employer, and experts and staff information are used in the preparation of the work community’s decision making. The cooperation bodies enable the members to present their views and opinions about things that do not belong to the actual agreement activities.

The cooperation law and the agreements oblige the employer to inform the staff of the cooperation proceedings and work community things.

Jyty has representatives on all cooperation levels, from the highest level to regional cooperation bodies.

​Collective agreement:

​A collective agreement in Finland is an agreement between the employee organization and the employer or the employers’ organization, and it is about trade specific work conditions, such as salary (including overtime compensation), working hours, holidays and other benefits that are followed in the applicable trade of the agreement. The agreements are often not only trade specific, but also tied to the occupational position of the employee. In the private sector the employers are often represented by one of the member trade unions of the Confederation of Finnish Industries, EK, while the employee side is represented by one of the member unions of SAK, STTK or Akava. In the public sector collective agreements are made. The contracting parties are the unions and the Local government employers KT, the Office for the Government as Employer or the Church labour market institution.