Current issue: 53(4)
The state of Finland had to intervene in the forest wages after the wages had dropped very low during depression in 1932-33. Even able-bodied workers were forced to resort to communal poor aid. Therefore, the Ministry of Communications and Public Works imposed in winter 1932-33 a study on the level of forest wages. Based on the investigations it was decided to develop control and guidance of forest and floating wages. A committee was appointed to follow the development of forest wages and to promote the formation of the wages on a reasonable level.
The country was divided into 14 wage districts, and for each district was confirmed an own norm of wages in accordance with the costs of living in the area. Inspectors controlled the wages primarily in such work places that were complaind of. Consequently, the earnings increased yearly in the 1930s.
During the Second World War, the main objective of economic policy of the government of Finland was to prevent inflation. The regulation of wages strived to compensate workers for the war-time rise in the cost of living. The Econimic Powers Act issued in 1941 was the first legislation that concerned regulation of wages. The Wages Commission prepared from the winter 1942 onward the wage tables per unit of forest works for employers. During the war, the employers were prepared to pay higher wages than the wage authorities considered possible.
Right after the war the main concern of wage control was that because of labour shortage forest and floating wages rose too high. From the end of 1948 onward, however, the principal task was to prevent paying of too low wages. Regulation did not succeed in preventing inflatory rise in wages in postwar conditions, and it was necessary to rise wages continually.
The Union of the Finnish Forest and Floating Workers was founded in 1946, and it concluded a collection agreement with the Employers’ Association of the Finnish Woodworking Industries in 1947. After 1949 the forest workers were represented in the Central League of Finnis Trade Unions (SAK). The regulation of wages ended in 1955, and after that the level of wages were negotiated by the labour market organizations.
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