The Trade Union of Education in Finland OAJ has a long history and close international ties.
Our union’s achievements, both in education and together with other labour market organisations at national level, create a foundation for our influential position.
The unionisation of teachers dates back as far as the 1880s. The Trade Union of Education in Finland OAJ was established in 1973.
As of 1991, OAJ’s members have included teachers from all teacher groups, from early childhood education to universities and teacher students to retired teachers. From 2006 on, education sector leaders and experts have also been able to join OAJ.
OAJ’s key achievements
Our main task is advocating for our members. The results of our advocacy work have improved – and continue to improve – our members’ status on the job markets.
OAJ has achieved the following through its advocacy work:
- prevented teachers from being laid off
- paid summer breaks and other breaks in the school year
- guaranteed a favourable trend in teachers’ salaries
- introduction of joint planning working hours
- instructions on working hours for kindergarten teachers
- a separate collective bargaining agreement for the education sector
- strengthened and trained the shop steward network
- ensured legal protection for teachers
- developed school legislation, teacher training and other education policy issues
- strengthened the competence of teacher occupational safety and health (OSH) representatives
OAJ is Finland’s sixth largest trade union and the largest member union of Akava, the Confederation of Unions for Professional and Managerial Staff in Finland, and the Negotiation Organisation for Public Sector Professionals JUKO.
The trade unions’ advocacy work has resulted in the following:
- collective labour agreements
- annual holidays and holiday pay
- the development of unemployment security
- maternity and parental leave
- job alternation leave
- development of working hours, working conditions and occupational safety and the related legislation
OAJ also safeguards and promotes its objectives internationally: the union’s close international ties extend from the Nordic countries to Europe and the rest of the world.
The starting point for OAJ’s international activities is advocating on behalf of teachers, improving teachers’ status and developing education. We work closely with other teacher organisations, such as Nordiska Lärarorganisationers Samråd NLS, the European ETUCE and the global Education International EI.
Our international focal points
In Nordic co-operation, we highlight the exchange of information and experiences, because Nordic co-operation is the gateway to European and global teachers’ trade union activity.
We influence the European Union’s education policies primarily by taking a stand on the views presented by Finland’s government and ministries.
We promote the interests of teachers globally through Finland’s government and especially through the education sector’s joint organisation Education International.
OAJ influences the status of teachers and education globally through national co-operation because national decisions concerning public services often have international roots.
Globalisation, the EU’s expanding and deepening integration and the modernisation of public services require trade unions to take a new approach to advocacy. This is why the exchange of information and experiences between unions and cross-border advocacy are important.
Since the 1980s, OAJ has been involved in joint development cooperation projects aimed at consolidating the national organisational activities and status of teachers and education in the target country. Most of our projects have been focussed on Africa.
They consolidate the competence and opportunity to influence of emerging countries’ teacher organisations. Hundreds of activist members have received training with OAJ’s support.
We also support the Martti Ahtisaari Primary School in Namibia.
In addition, OAJ participates and exerts it influence in the NGO Fingo and UNA Finland.