Finland suspends issuing visas to Thai berry pickers due to human smuggling

Finland suspends issuing visas to Thai berry pickers due to human smuggling

The embassy was told to stop issuing visas in November 2022.

– The Ministry of Economic Affairs has prepared a proposal to amend the seasonal worker regulation so that the picking of natural products requires the conclusion of an employment contract. press release from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

– The public consultation of the proposal has just ended, and the change is supposed to take effect well before the start of the harvest season. The change would mean that all collectors arriving in Finland would be in the employment relationship of seasonal workers with their employers.

The Arctic Flavors Association, a national advocate for wild berries, herbs, mushrooms and specialty forest products, is expressed his opposition pickers are redefined as employees rather than self-employed.

It warned yesterday that suspending visas could have serious consequences for the industry.

“Then we’re in trouble. The likely outcome is that many companies will fail, Birgitta PartanenThe executive director of the Arctic Flavors Association, estimates in interview with Helsingin Sanomat.

“Although we have tried to develop domestic collection over the past couple of years and succeeded in increasing it, it cannot possibly be developed to a level that would satisfy the current need for raw materials,” he added. “Human trafficking must not be allowed under any circumstances, and we also strongly condemn it. It is negative for the entire Finnish natural product industry.

Partanen stated that the goal of the ban is good and commendable, but the measure itself should be reconsidered. He demanded more through preparation and impact assessment.

“The issue should be put back on the agenda and the overall effects assessed. It will have huge regional effects if things get to the point where we don’t get collectors, he commented to the newspaper.

Helsingin Sanomat wrote that Thais make up 85–90 percent of Finland’s berry pickers. Finnish companies are expected to recruit around 3,000 pickers from the country this year, 1,000 less than in 2022.

Although Partanen believes that the Finns could satisfy part of the labor demand, it would require the development of collection networks for a couple of years.

“Finns rediscovered nature during the coronavirus pandemic. Berries have increased significantly, but sales are mostly done [online auction] Tori.fi and Facebook – directly from collectors to consumers,” he told Helsingin Sanomat.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT

Source: The Nordic Page

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