Paper: Estonia's economy growing at expense of mistreated workers

Short-term workers are not subject to Estonia's annual immigration quota.
Short-term workers are not subject to Estonia's annual immigration quota. Source: Anna Aurelia Minev/ERR

An investigation by newspaper Postimees reveals that Estonia's economic growth is being built at the expense of third-country migrants who often face mistreatment at the hands of bosses and companies.

The daily reported (link in English) it had found over 1,000 online job adverts targetting workers in Ukraine from €4 hourly-paid jobs in Estonia and advertising working hours as between 250-300 hours a month, double the amount Estonian labor laws allow, "This translates into missed tax revenue for the state and health and occupational risks for the worker," the paper wrote, describing the schemes as "half-legal" which "often fleece both the Ukrainian workers and the Estonian state".

Postimees wrote about Ukrainian and Belarussian workers who arrived in Estonia on a visa issued in other countries, such as Poland, then find employment illegally and face bosses who refuse to pay the workers what they are owed.

Sirle Blumberg who runs the nonprofit organization Living for Tomorrow, which includes a counselling hotline for human trafficking victims, says she has never received so many calls and complaints about working conditions as she currently is with most of the 600 calls she receives each year come from Ukrainians, Moldavians and Belarusians working in Estonia

Estonia does not know how many illegal workers there are in the country, the paper wrote, and said n estimate by the Ministry of Internal Affairs puts the figure at 1,000-5,000 but no one could say what the estimated figures are based on. The short-term workers register had over 32,000 people by late November.  


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Editor: Helen Wright

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