Finland: Agreement provides protection to Thai berry pickers

Moves are being made to give more protection to Thai berry pickers working in Finland.

The Ministry of Employment and the Economy and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs have signed a letter of intent (LOI) concerning the picking of wild berries with several berry industry companies. The aim is to harmonise operating methods that apply to people who arrive in Finland to pick berries – the majority coming from Thailand.

The purpose of the LOI, signed in December 2014, is to strengthen the position of foreign berry pickers and to provide more equal business opportunities for companies in the berry industry.

According to the LOI, companies inviting berry pickers to Finland should be, among other things, responsible for providing training and guidance. The LOI also stipulates that the companies should be responsible for ensuring reasonable living conditions for workers during their stay in Finland.

The berry sector companies which signed the LOI represent a wide range of businesses in the industry.

The Central Organisation of Finnish Trade Unions, SAK, criticised the LOI for not including minimum conditions on working time or pay. In Finland, berry pickers are normally treated as ‘entrepreneurs’, although according to SAK, berry picking should be seen as employment eligible to collectively agreed pay.

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