Nordic labour ministers and ILO head to discuss platform economy and wellbeing at work in Helsinki
The transformation of work and new ways to work offer both challenges and opportunities for the Nordic labour market and workers’ wellbeing. The Nordic employment ministers will discuss these topics at a meeting organised by Finland as part of its Presidency of the Nordic Council of Ministers on 22–23 November 2021.
In addition to the ministers, the meeting will be attended by Guy Ryder, Director-General of the International Labour Organization (ILO), Paula Lehtomäki, Secretary General of the Nordic Council of Ministers, and representatives of the social partners. Finland’s representatives will be Minister of Employment Tuula Haatainen and Minister of Social Affairs and Health Hanna Sarkkinen.
Pandemic causes a rise in unemployment and inequality
The ILO has monitored the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on working life and the measures taken by its Member States to recover from the crisis. During the crisis, compliance with the ILO Conventions has fallen. As unemployment, poverty and inequality have increased in many countries, the ILO has focused its efforts on mitigating the negative consequences of the pandemic.
“We are concerned about the increasing inequality and the obstacles to freedom of association in some countries, for example. The ILO does important work to achieve international labour standards,” says Haatainen.
Adequate protection for workers in platform economy
Many platform economy companies operate internationally. It is therefore important to Finland that the discussion on platform economy takes place between the Nordic countries, in the EU and internationally. A topical question is whether platform workers are treated as entrepreneurs or employees. In Finland, a tripartite working group will consider the matter from the perspective of labour legislation.
“A platform economy based on fair regulation offers opportunities for new forms of business. However, these good opportunities will be wasted if we do not ensure adequate regulation and safety nets for workers at the same time,” Haatainen adds.
Mental wellbeing needs support in transformation of work
Demographic change will cause a decline in the working-age population. At the same time, mental health problems will cause premature retirement. Mental health promotion requires measures at workplaces and in working life. It is important to ensure that the workforce is fit to work and can cope at work until retirement.
During the transformation of work, it may be increasingly challenging to identify and manage psychosocial risks. In future, the importance of good mental health must be considered an investment. With regard to mental health, it is important to focus not only on mental health services, but also on preventing and reducing the underlying causes of excessive strain and stress.
“In the economy of wellbeing, mental health should be seen as capital worth investing in. I also hope for Nordic cooperation to implement the European Mental Health Strategy,” says Minister of Social Affairs and Health Sarkkinen.
Iiris Niinikoski, Special Adviser to the Minister of Employment, tel. +358 295 047 372
Jiri Sironen, Special Adviser to the Minister of Social Affairs and Health, tel. +358 295 163 410 Pauliina Porkka, Ministerial Adviser, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, tel. +358 295 048 278 (employment ministers’ meeting)
Liisa Heinonen, Senior Ministerial Adviser, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, tel. +358 295 064 131 (ILO) 0295 064 131 (ILO)
Jaana Vastamäki, Senior Specialist, Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, tel. + 358 295 163 468