It is absolutely vital for a trade union to know who the members are, and what they want, and expect. The union is made up of members and exists for its members.
Even though the roots of the Industrial Union go back to the year 1869 when the first association for book printers in Helsinki was established, the Industrial Union of today began its work at the beginning of 2018.
Now the 2.5 years old union wants to find out what the members are thinking and doing and what they expect from the Union. A major survey from among the Union members was carried out in February and March 2020.
Every member who is active in the labour market and has given his or her e-mail address to the Union, received a questionnaire. The number of questionnaires sent out was 85,000 and the number of replies was 13,500. This makes up quite a representative percentage of replies, 15.9 per cent.
In general, those who replied, fairly well represent union members according to profession, place of residence and age. Women were, by and large, more keen to reply than men.
The amount of information received is huge and it will take time to analyse it. For this reason the union will publish the results in seven parts, from June until November.
As the union is working for its members in many areas, the questions in the survey touched many themes. A large part of the questions concerned work, as developing working life is the core issue for any trade union.
One goal of the survey is to find out how the union should develop into being what members wish for and expect of it. Some questions concerned members’ actions, attitudes, thoughts and hopes. Questions about hobbies and leisure time activities are included when planning union events and membership benefits.
The first part, called A different approach to the member, focuses on what the survey is for and who the members are. The second part called After all, everything is fine, focuses on working life experiences. Both were published in June.
200 REPLIED IN ENGLISH
The questionnaire was sent out in three languages. Those, who did not have Finnish or Swedish as their language in the Union files, got it in English.
A total of 2.4 per cent of the questionnaires sent out were in English. And very few of the people who got these actually have English as a mother tongue, they speak a wide variety of languages. In spite of this, 1.5 per cent of those who replied did so in English. This makes up some 200 people.
So, how does the average member of the union look like then? A typical female member is 46 years old, either Sari from Uusimaa and working in the media and printing branch or Päivi from Oulu region, working in the metal industry.
She is in a relationship, no kids at home. She also has many interests, like exercise, to have a sauna, travels, interior decor and cooking.
A typical male member is 45 years old, like metal worker Jari from Pirkanmaa or sawmill worker Mika from south-east Finland. He is in a relationship with one child at home. He has several hobbies, but the most interesting ones are exercise and – no surprise, this is Finland – to have a sauna.
TEXT HEIKKI JOKINEN