Exploitative employment practices are a despicable phenomenon that should be tackled decisively, both through more effective legislation and by improving co-operation between public authorities. The Central Organisation of Finnish Trade Unions (SAK) has urged the authorities to introduce further means of intervention, and to increase the chances of apprehending and sanctioning those who practice labour exploitation.
– Exploitative employment practices also often go undetected because employees lack information about working in Finland, or about such aspects as the applicable terms and conditions of employment in an industry. These employees also usually lack networks that can guide them in various situations at work, explains SAK Director Heli Puura.
To provide more information and counselling, SAK has launched a new service package that seeks to address the particular needs of working migrants and young adults directly. Training will also be available for elected employee representatives on how to recognise exploitative employment practices. The project is subsidised in 2021 by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment.
– Even though trade unions assist their members, a growing number of employees are not yet accustomed to dealing with a union. The new service provides additional information, especially for employees who are beginning their careers, and guides them in claiming their own rights, Puura explains.
The new service pays special attention to multilingualism and the need to express things clearly, as the range of terms and concepts used when discussing rights and duties at work is very broad. The Fair Play at Work package seeks to set things out and explain them in a highly concrete way.
– We have also taken care to present this guidance in a user-friendly way. The service includes a multiple choice test in several languages to determine whether visitors know their rights at work, says SAK Digital Communications and Marketing Specialist Marika Mantere.
Basic information on working in Finland is now available in an exceptionally wide range of languages. The comprehensive ABC guide to working in Finland provides information in Finnish, English and Swedish. This information is also available in a more concise form in 20 other languages: Arabic, Burmese, Chinese, Dari, Estonian, Farsi, French, German, Kurdish (Sorani), Latvian, Nepali, Polish, Russian, Somali, Spanish, Tagalog, Thai, Turkish, Ukrainian and Vietnamese.
– The first version of the online service has been released, and we are now collecting comments on how the multilingual content was received. We are hoping to enhance the service by working with its target readers, Mantere explains.
For some years, SAK has been providing an employment counselling service for immigrants. This will now expand into a user-friendly personal service for young adults who have not yet joined a union. The counselling service has special expertise in issues that arise for immigrant workers.
– You may call us during service hours, or send a message. We currently provide the telephone service in Finnish and English. We have also tested digital interpretation according to need this year, and we shall include this resource in the service next year, says SAK employee rights advisory service specialist Maaret Pulliainen.
Designed particularly with young adults in mind, the Jobotti chatbot also responds to questions about employee rights.
– In six months, Jobotti has evolved from an embryonic chatbot into a knowledgeable assistant that stands ready to serve. The process of training this digital counselling assistant has helped us learn which questions interest young adults, and we have continually increased its response repository along the way, Pulliainen explains.