Situation of foreign berry pickers in Finland at risk: Report

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Situation of foreign berry pickers in Finland at risk: Report

The status of foreign wild berry pickers involves significant risks in Finland under the current situation, according to a study commissioned by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment.

A working group of the Ministry has also produced an additional impact assessment of the options on the economic impacts of different solutions, said the ministry in a press release on Monday.

A study by Pellervo Economic Research and the University of Vaasa evaluated the economic impacts that two different regulatory options would have on foreigners picking wild berries, wild berry companies and public finances in Finland.

The options are that pickers coming to Finland would either have a contractual employment relationship based on seasonal work or that they would work independently as self-employed persons.

According to the report, amending the legal provisions on the wild berry sector is justified in order to minimise the shortcomings in the sector. Seasonal work based on an employment contract appears a more realistic option than self-employment.

“For pickers who do not know Finnish and come from very different cultural environments working as self-employed persons would be cumbersome and inefficient in terms of costs. In practice, pickers would not be able to fulfil their statutory obligations. The pickers would still be dependent on the wild berry companies, because they would have to conclude contracts with the to sell the berries,” said Henna Busk, Senior Economist at Pellervo Economic Research.

The report will support political decision-making on the alternative models. The Government will decide on further preparation later. The changes are intended to take effect for the harvest season of 2025.

According to the report, a contractual employment relationship would provide pickers with the benefits of such a relationship and the security of a minimum wage.

However, the change would not necessarily result in an increased income for all berry pickers. Nor would it prevent the indebtedness caused by travel expenses in the country of origin.

Contractual employment relationships and the related obligations of employers would lead to higher costs for berry companies.

Some companies would have to change their operations and others might have to withdraw from the market. Rising costs would put upward pressure on the prices of domestic wild berries.

However, contractual employment relationships of berry pickers are not expected to have any significant impact on general government finances.

The report recommends that further preparation involve operators in the sector and that employees and employers receive the guidance and advice they need. Operators and authorities in the sector were widely interviewed for the report.

A working group of the Ministry has produced an additional impact assessment of the options to support decision-making.

The working group emphasises that in future the pickers’ entry into Finland should be based on either a contractual employment relationship or self-employment.

Consequently, picking could not be equated with tourism in the future. In addition to legislative amendments, both increased responsibility of the sector and cooperation between the authorities are required to solve the problems in the sector.

The option of a contractual employment relationship means that picking wild produce would be included in the scope of application of the Seasonal Workers Act.

According to the working group, the most obvious advantage of the option of contractual employment relationships would be that the general rules of labour legislation would apply and that the occupational safety and health enforcement could tackle any shortcomings.

The development of the Berry Act and the entry of pickers into Finland as self-employed persons would be a lesser change in the practices of berry companies and involve smaller costs for them.

In Finland, the picking of wild berries is strongly dependent on foreign labour, especially pickers invited and recruited from Thailand.

Until now, pickers have come to Finland with a Schengen tourist visa, which allows them to stay and pick berries in Finland for a maximum of three months.

Problems related to the working conditions and earnings of berry pickers have become more widely known over the past 10 years.

Widespread suspicions and charges of human trafficking emerged in the sector in 2022 and 2023.

Due to these problems, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs suspended the reception of visa applications of wild berry pickers from Thailand in March 2024.

A sustainable solution is needed for the entry of berry pickers from the 2025 harvest season onwards.

Source: www.dailyfinland.fi

5 Comments
  1. EmmaSmith93 says

    The situation involving foreign wild berry pickers seems quite precarious in Finland based on the current report. It is imperative that regulatory adjustments are made to ensure the well-being and rights of these workers. Opting for a seasonal employment contract seems like a more feasible solution compared to self-employment, especially for individuals unfamiliar with the language and cultural norms. The report highlights the necessity of amending the legal framework in the wild berry sector to address its shortcomings.

  2. JenniferSmith says

    The situation of foreign wild berry pickers in Finland is concerning. It is crucial that the legal provisions in the wild berry sector are amended to provide better protection and support for these workers. Seasonal work with an employment contract seems like a more viable option than self-employment, especially considering the language and cultural barriers. It’s important to prioritize the well-being and rights of these pickers to ensure a fair and safe working environment.

  3. EmilySmith123 says

    Do you think the proposed solution of seasonal work based on an employment contract adequately addresses the risks faced by foreign berry pickers in Finland?

    1. JamesJohnson456 says

      Yes, I believe that the proposed solution of seasonal work based on an employment contract is a step in the right direction to address the risks faced by foreign berry pickers in Finland. Providing a structured work arrangement with clear responsibilities and rights can help ensure better protection for the pickers and improve their overall well-being.

  4. Hanna Smith says

    As a berry picker myself, I believe that having a contractual employment relationship for foreign pickers in Finland is crucial. It ensures fair treatment and better integration into the workforce. Self-employment might not be suitable for those unfamiliar with the language and culture. The proposed amendments are necessary to protect the rights and well-being of all pickers involved.

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