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Union refuses to back down against Tallink

  • 2006-12-13
  • By TBT staff
TALLINN - A recent incident involving Tallink executives and the alleged harassment of personnel on board one of the group's ships has continued to escalate. Last week, the Swedish union SEKO filed a police report and demanded 1.8 million kroons (115,000 euros) in compensation for the offended employees.

The union told the Baltic News Service that it had lodged an official report with Swedish police and that it would continue demanding compensation to the tune of 16,500 euros for each of the seven crew members who suffered as a result of the incident.

On Oct. 25, Tallink executives decided to hold a private dinner and cruise onboard the Silja Symphony from Helsinki to Stockholm. According to reports in the Swedish press, the executives 's the group includes CEO Enn Pant, Andres Hunt and Keijo Mehtonen 's began to behave aggressively and eventually insult the service staff.
SEKO claims that one executive woke up the manager of the tax free shop in the middle of the night so that he could smoke a cigar, while the Finnish tabloid Iltalehti reported that the executives demanded the bar be kept open all night long.
One employee was apparently punched in the face by a Tallink executive.

Silja, a Finnish shipping company, was recently acquired by Tallink. It is now a subsidiary of Estonia's Tallink Group, a public company that is listed on the Tallinn Stock Exchange.
On Nov. 1, just several days after the incident, it was reported that Antti Pankankoski, who headed operations at the Silja subsidiary, had resigned.

Meanwhile, the Eesti Paevaleht, an Estonian daily, quoted the Swedish media last month as claiming that Unni Astrom, former vice present of Silja Line, was fired because she refused to name the employees who had not cooperated during the Tallink Group executives' late-night party.
The Helsingin Sanomat, a leading Finnish daily, reported on Nov. 8 that Tallink management, particularly Silja CEO Mehtonen, denied reports about the incident. However, Tallink issued a statement on Nov. 10 that "the improprieties that may have occurred…. on Oct. 25 are regrettable."

Finally, on Nov. 27 Tallink managers met with SEKO to discuss the incident as well as possible compensation. In the end, Tallink bosses offered the offended employees a weekend trip to a spa as compensation, a SEKO official told the Baltic News Service.
SEKO representatives said they were not satisfied with the offer and would continue to seek pecuniary compensation, refuting a claim by Tallink CEO Pant that the grievances had been addressed and the issue closed.

On Dec. 6, Tallink filed a report to the Tallink Stock Exchange that an in-house investigation into the incident was continuing and that the company was still trying to get statements from all involved.
Meanwhile, the merger between Tallink and Silja continues, and last week Tallink reported that it would slash 69 jobs as a result of integrating the company's Swedish subsidiaries Tallink Sverige and Tallink Silja.