OAJ and JHL are organising a demonstration to demand that Helsinki’s salary payment mess is cleaned up – “This is an emergency”

24.08.2022 - 07:45 Press release
OAJ and JHL are challenging city councillors to promote a fix to the salary payment problems.

For months now, the City of Helsinki has had problems with salary payment. However, there are still no solutions, and nobody is taking responsibility. The due date for solutions and paying compensation for the damages incurred is now, as trade unions OAJ and JHL will remind in their demonstration today. In a worst-case scenario, the same problems will be faced elsewhere when the City of Vantaa and the wellbeing services counties will adopt the Sarastia system.

On Wednesday, the Trade Union of Education in Finland OAJ and the Trade Union for the Public and Welfare Sectors JHL are organising a demonstration called Due Date on Senate Square in Helsinki.

With the demonstration, the trade organisations are demanding the city to speed up fixing the salary payment problems and paying compensation for the damages caused by the problems.

Employees are hanging by a thread

The problems have already been going on for months. As a result, OAJ and JHL members have had to, say, renegotiate their loan repayments with their banks, borrow money from acquaintances and live on credit cards and instant loans. In the most extreme cases, the collection of people’s debts has been referred to enforcement.

– The city management has still not come up with clear solutions. The problems are reported to continue throughout autumn. In practice, this means that every City of Helsinki employee has to worry each month whether they have received their salary on their account and whether the amount is correct. For instance, principals and day-care centre managers have had to do a large amount of extra administrative work because of the situation. This means that they can devote less time to their key task – pedagogic leadership, OAJ president Katarina Murto says.

Applying for compensation must be made easy

The City of Helsinki has close to 40,000 employees. As a result of transferring to Sarastia’s pay system, the employees have had difficulties even with accessing the pay system. Thus, they have not been able to even check the correctness of their salary.

– This is an emergency. The due dates of employees’ bills and groceries do not wait, and each employee must be able to count on receiving their salary on time. If the employer fails at this, the financial damage caused by the mistake must of course be compensated. Applying for compensation must be easy so that it will not cause any further concern to employees or burden them further, JHL president Päivi Niemi-Laine says.

Demonstration sends a message to city councillors

The Due Date demonstration will be organised right before the Helsinki City Council meeting.

– We hope that the city councillors will today use the power invested in them by the voters and do everything possible to intervene in the salary payment problems with the necessary seriousness. The city management and office-holders have a responsibility to put things right so that also those who work in payroll administration have a chance to succeed at their work, Katarina Murto says.

One must learn from mistakes in order to not repeat them

Päivi Niemi-Laine reminds that the problems may, in the worst case, spread to an even larger area than Helsinki. That is why Sarastia’s management, too, must ensure that the upcoming system reforms have a better outcome.

– Hindsight is not helpful, but even Sarastia must learn from the mistakes made in Helsinki. Otherwise, similar problems may later be faced by the City of Vantaa and the wellbeing services counties, among others, when the Sarastia system is adopted, Niemi-Laine says.

The Due Date demonstration will begin on Senate Square in Helsinki at 4 pm. The event will be hosted by reporter and author Ina Mikkola. There will be, say, speeches made by organisations and employees, and music. In the event, OAJ and JHL are challenging city councillors to promote a fix to the salary payment problems.