NGO to Blow Whistle on Finnish Employment Scammers

High-paying Finland became a popular destination for construction workers when Estonia's building boom went bust in 2008. Photo: Postimees/Scanpix
1/26/2012 3:34 PM
Category: Society

The Tallinn-based human rights group Living for Tomorrow (LFT) is preparing a criminal complaint against several Finnish companies and individuals it says are involved in scamming Estonian construction workers out of their fair wages, Finnish public television revealed on January 25.

LFT is planning to submit information it has collected on the alleged crimes to the Finnish police.

The YLE2 report highlighted the widespread practice of intermediary companies, typically based in Estonia, "renting" out relatively cheap Estonian construction labor to Finnish contractors.

The workers, who are promised Finnish levels of pay, usually end up with far less, sometimes as low as the Estonian minimum wage. Often they are not paid for months on end, YLE said, citing the case of a worker in Kerava who said he was owed 24,000 euros in back wages.

The head of LFT, Sirje Blumberg, said that it was more difficult to tackle such cases under the Estonian legal system because, unlike in Finland, such labor abuse is not considered a form of human trafficking.

New laws recently introduced in Finland may shut down the practice, however. From next year, construction workers will need to wear a badge displaying their Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) to gain access to building sites.


Steve Roman

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