Citizens concerned about poverty

An overwhelming majority of the Finns believe that in spite of much talk, nothing real has been done to help the poor. In a recent Gallup poll, commissioned by the Central Organisation of Finnish Trade Unions (SAK) and reported by the Finnish Broadcasting Company (21 May 2001), 75 per cent of the interviewees expressed this point of view.

More than five out of six (84 per cent) want the trade union movement to fight more robustly to reduce the income gap. 81 per cent say they are aware of the existence of poverty and only less than fifth of the interviewed believed that poverty had been eliminated in Finland.

Citizens are especially worried about the gap between low and high incomes. Interestingly the group most concerned are entrepreneurs. Whilst two thirds of the Finns deny that income differentials are beneficial for society, entrepreneurs are even more doubtful (83%) about the usefulness of the income gap.

Citizens least concerned about poverty vote for the conservative party (Kokoomus). But even among them, 62 per cent want stronger action to fight poverty.

The social democratic newspaper Uutispäivä Demari (22 May 2001) says that the Gallup results give food for thought for business, government and labour market organisations — especially the trade union movement. In an editorial, the newspaper writes that the trade unions have been reluctant to back income solutions which favour the low-paid even more than is the case currently. The poll shows that public opinion seems to be favourable to such a policy.

"Levelling income differentials and keeping them in control are closely connected to overall income agreements. Citizens are aware of this, since 90 per cent of them think that a single employee cannot negotiate wages on an equal basis with the employer.

"What may startle entrepreneurs and business in this SAK poll is the fact how easily citizens are ready to boycott a company which does not take care of its personnel and fulfil other social obligations or if it acts in a hostile way towards trade unions. On the other hand, this finding is not very threatening because a company which operates properly always wins over a bullying company. There is plenty of evidence that a successful company generally tries to behave properly in other ways as well."

See also:

Erosion of welfare state

25 April 2001

Government survives poverty vote

17 March 2001

Wealth gap worries citizens

6 March 2001

Welfare state "surrounded by confusion"

7 November 2000

"Would inefficiency create more happiness?"

23 June 2000

Lutheran bishops in defence of the Nordic welfare State

24 February 2000

Poverty assumes modern disguises

1 February 2000

Bishops attack Anglo-American economic doctrines

March 1999

Lutheran worries about welfare state

March 1997

From Lutheranism to the crisis of modern welfare state

March 1997

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