Prima Magazine 3/2013
Prima Magazine 3/2013
|ALSO IN PRIMA'S JUNE ISSUE:|
|•||What happened to billions in export revenues?|
|•||A new approach to trade with Russia|
|•||Versowood intends to make it in the export market|
|•||What makes Germany so successful?|
Prima 3/2013 briefly:
Päivi Leiwo of Oilon:
Specialisation and growing markets an opportunity for Finnish companies
The global success of Finnish companies is based on specialisation and the ability to penetrate growing markets, says Päivi Leiwo, chair of the Board of Directors of the energy and environmental technology company Oilon, in an interview to be published in the next issue of EK’s Prima magazine, out on Thursday 13 June.
As Europe has languished in recession, Oilon has been expanding its business in China. “We have gained a foothold in a project whereby the largest district heating company in Beijing is replacing coal with natural gas, a cleaner form of energy. In China, there is great demand for environmental technology based on strong product development,” says Päivi Leiwo.
Given her role as an owner-entrepreneur, a member of the steering group of the Team Finland network and the chairman of the competitiveness workgroup of the Federation of Finnish Technology Industries, Leiwo is very familiar with issues related to the growth and globalisation of Finnish companies.
Leiwo is mindful of the fact that sectors associated with wood fibre and the capital goods of the technology industry remain relatively strong. The exportation of Finnish IT and business services has also increased significantly in comparison to the share that these sectors hold in terms of global trade as a whole.
“Throughout the past few decades, Finnish companies and the Finnish system of innovation have accumulated a lot of expertise which provides a solid basis for future growth. International interaction also supplies us with vast amounts of new information, provided by the academic world and customers alike.”
Nonetheless, the decisions that the public administration makes in respect of taxation and measures aiming to improve the functionality of the public sector and develop the system of innovation will have a great impact on companies’ prospects for growth.
Whether labour market organisations act responsibly can be seen in the decisions they make in negotiations concerning the flexibility of working hours, wage settlements, pension issues and other matters of importance to employees and employers alike.
According to Leiwo, the fact that the unit wage costs adopted by Finnish export industries have broken ranks with our principal export rivals is one of the reasons why demand for Finnish labour has declined. This trend also reflects on companies in the domestic market, in that our export companies are seeking cost-effective subcontractors from abroad.
The Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation Tekes, Finpro, Team Finland, the State’s financing companies and other public organisations form an important outlet for growth and globalisation.
TRUMPF a top performer
Known for its industrial innovations, the German company TRUMPF, which manufactures machine tools and laser technology, among other things, has won many challenges in its time. The company’s competitiveness – revealed Nicola Leibinger-Kammüller, President and Chairwoman of TRUMPF’s Management Board, in an interview with Prima – is based on continuous innovation.
“For many years now, we have invested eight to ten per cent of our net sales in research and development. That amounts to twice the average amount invested in R&D by other companies in our industry.”
The hardest blow yet was delivered during the financial crisis of 2009, which caused TRUMPF’s net sales to plummet by 40 per cent within two financial years. The company launched a massive recovery programme: while employees now put in more hours during good times, they correspondingly work less during bad times – for the same pay. TRUMPF introduced a new model for working time.
Competitiveness was boosted by investing in the training of personnel. According to the German media, no other company in the country made better use of its employees’ idle time during the financial crisis than TRUMPF did.
“Rather than sending our employees home, we gave them further training. In addition to ensuring their continued motivation, this ensured our ability to shift to a higher gear immediately after the recession was over,” says Leibinger-Kammüller.
IPR disputes to be concentrated in the Market Court
In the future, companies will be able to prevent infringements of their intellectual property rights more quickly than before. This is the primary objective behind the move to concentrate the handling of IPR disputes in the Market Court, says the most recent issue of Prima magazine.
The change, set to be implemented in September, represents a significant step forward for companies. Until now, disputes concerning patents and trademarks, for example, have been handled in the District Court of Helsinki, whereas administrative disputes have been dealt with by the Board of Appeal of the National Board of Patents and Registrations.
Another significant change about to take place at the same time involves the appeals process of disputes heard by the Market Court. Following the change, appeals will be addressed directly to the Supreme Court. This means that cases will no longer be heard by a Court of Appeal as the court of second instance, in a process that typically takes about a year.
When matters are subjected to the consideration of specialised judges from the very beginning, companies may expect more thoroughly deliberated decisions right from the start. In addition to professional judges, the boards that make decisions in the Market Court may be composed of expert members who have accumulated their experience in the service of companies, associations or academia, for instance. The idea of this arrangement is to ensure that decisions are also deliberated from a practical point of view.
“We must put more effort into the preparatory phases to ensure that everyone is aware of the issues at dispute when we go to trial. If cases have been prepared weakly, we will end up with parties talking at cross purposes,” says Kimmo Mikkola, Chief Judge of the Market Court in the Prima interview.
Legal Affairs Director Markus Äimälä:
What does everyone need to know about overtime?
Can an employee send his or her employer a bill for dealing with a backlog of work during the weekend? Can an employer order an employee to work overtime? How should overtime be compensated? How much overtime can an employer ask employees to do?
The rules and regulations concerning overtime are ultimately quite simple, writes EK’s Legal Affairs Director Markus Äimälä in the latest issue of Prima.
Overtime invariably requires a request from the employer. Unprompted working is not equal to overtime, even if it would benefit the employer. It is nevertheless important to remember that if an employer asks an employee to urgently take care of something that the employee cannot, in any way whatsoever, perform during normal working hours, the request can be considered a request to work overtime, writes Äimälä.
Employers cannot order their employees to work overtime. Rather, this demands the consent of the employee. Moreover, the consent should be obtained separately for each instance of working overtime. Overtime is generally compensated for by paying increased wages for each hour of overtime.
The maximum amount of overtime is restricted in the Finnish Working Hours Act. Under normal circumstances, employers can ask employees to put in a maximum of 138 hours of overtime over a period of four months. The annual maximum limit for overtime is 250 hours.