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Finnish union JHL trains activists to influence municipal decision making

14 August 2013
Trade union work requires many operational skills at all levels of the organisation. In Pirkanmaa - the area around the city of Tampere, Finland - JHL is currently running a project to hone and develop the skills of their local activists. The project is called Pilot Pirkanmaa and it will continue until the end of the year.

Pilot Pirkanmaa is an intensive project where ten union activists are focusing on how to best influence municipal decision making and support local branches in this effort. Together with 60 JHL local branches in the region, they follow closely what is going on in the municipalities and what kind of effects political decisions would have in practical terms, e.g. when it comes to outsourcing or other structural changes.

Each of the ten pilot project participants is responsible for a certain area of Pirkanmaa. They are in frequent contact with the JHL local branches and try to keep track of municipal decision making.

This information is discussed together with all local branches in the municipality in order to anticipate changes and draft strategies on how to defend the interests of union members. The idea is to be engaged at the very earliest stage so that there remains a real possibility of influencing the direction decisions take.

The long-term goal is to help the local branches to follow decision making and better develop and improve relations with local decision makers. As JHL covers a great variety of occupations, it is also important to create working co-operation between the JHL local branches in every municipality. The total number of members in Pirkanmaa is 21,500.

All members interested can get training in social activity. JHL Pirkanmaa regional office is organising a three-day evening course on how to influence decision making in October. Themes include influencing by writing, on the web and making contacts with decision makers.

The pilot group regularly keeps all JHL branches in the region informed of its activities. The goal of the pilot project is supported by JHL ‘members only’ web pages, where there is a section dedicated to tracking all planned structural and other relevant changes due to take place in Finnish municipalities.

By Heikki Jokinen


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