Estonian MPs: Seasonal workers can be paid below average

Cleaning services employee. Photo is illustrative. (Postimees/Scanpix)
11/16/2016 2:42 PM
Source: BNS
Category: Business

On Tuesday the Constitutional Committee of the Riigikogu unanimously supported adding a provision to the bill of amendments to the Aliens Act which would allow businesses to pay less than the Estonian average wage to seasonal workers coming from third countries.

Businesses will be obliged to treat such seasonal workers equally with local workers, however, spokespeople for the Riigikogu said.

"The committee did not consider the requirement to pay the average wage to seasonal workers reasonable because in several sectors this requirement would be too demanding and would to a great extent preclude the possibility of using seasonal workers from third countries," said Chairman of the Constitutional Committee MP Kalle Laanet (Reform).

Laanet said that businesses must act based on the fact that seasonal workers from third countries must be treated equally with domestic employees.

Contacted by BNS, MP Jaak Madison, a member of the Constitutional Committee belonging to the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE), said that had he been present at the meeting, he would have definitely voted against this provision. He said that the option upheld by the standing committee was that businesses will have to pay seasonal workers at least the sector's average pay.

"This will immediately reduce wage pressure and create the freedom to import cheap labor, be it in the cleaning services sector, the service sector, seasonal jobs, agriculture or whatever," Madison told BNS. "It's very bad that the Constitutional Committee supported it; I am against it under any circumstances. I am in Slovakia on a work-related trip now; I would have definitely voted against it."

The bill of amendments to the Aliens Act and other associated acts, initiated by the government, will transpose the directives of the European Parliament on seasonal workers and intra-corporate transferees into state law. The purpose of the directive is to ensure decent working and living conditions for seasonal workers as well as to offer them protection from abuse by employers through establishing common and transparent rules in the EU.

The Constitutional Committee also unanimously supported amending a bill of amendments to the Aliens Act, the Citizen of the EU Act and the Identity Documents Act, initiated by the government, by adding a clause according to which aliens issued a temporary residence permit for enterprise as big investors would be excluded from the immigration quota.

The purpose of the bill is to facilitate the temporary stay and living in Estonia of aliens who contribute to the development of Estonia's economic environment. For example, the information and communication technology sector (ICT) would be excluded from the immigration quota as settling in Estonia would be made easier for startup entrepreneurship and employment with startup companies.

Both bills will be addressed by the Riigikogu in their second reading, which is scheduled to take place on Nov. 23.

Editor: Aili Vahtla

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