Unions to decide on migrant labor

  • 2005-09-28
  • Baltic News Service
HELSINKI - Finland will likely decide in the beginning of 2005 whether or not to open its labor market, with the ultimate decision hinging on local trade unions.

Finland currently has a transition period in place that allows the country to bar workers from other EU member states from taking up jobs in the country.

Toomas Kahur, charge d'affaires at the Estonian Embassy in Helsinki, told reporters that of the three largest trade organizations in Finland, two are rather in favor of ending the transition period on May 1, 2006.

Yet SAK, the largest and the most influential of the union confederations, wants the transition period to continue. While the decision formally will be made by Parliament, trade unions will have substantial influence on the Social Democratic Party, Kahur explained.

If Finland decides not to lift the restrictions, the ban will extend for three years.

The parliamentary vote is due in February or March next year. Trade unions may make their stance known by year-end.

Estonian Embassy officials said Estonian-speaking workers could often be seen on construction sites in Helsinki and that Estonians were highly valued workers.

Though working conditions can sometimes be quite poor, Estonians working in Finland do not complain because their pay is several times higher than at home.