Finnish unions, employers strike wage deal

1.8 million workers affected by 0.4 per cent raise

HELSINKI (Reuters) — Finnish trade unions and employers on Monday reached a wage settlement that would lift monthly salaries at least 16 euros or 0.4 per cent next year.

The deal will affect 1.8 million workers and satisfied the new centre-right government which is seeking to boost competitiveness in the country's sputtering economy.

Prime Minister Juha Sipila is hoping to reach an agreement with the unions to accept longer working hours and other reforms in the working conditions to avoid more cuts in public spending.

"This (deal) is moderate enough, and an important step towards a wider social contract," he told reporters.

Finland's export competitiveness has fallen about 20 per cent since 2007, relative to Germany, the rest of the euro zone and non-euro member Sweden, as labour costs climbed despite poor economic performance.

The economy has contracted for three consecutive years and has yet to return to its 2008 output levels following the decline of key sectors including Nokia's phone business and a slowdown in key export markets in Europe and Russia.

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