The ministry calls a time-out on the status of Thai berry pickers in Finland

The ministry calls a time-out on the status of Thai berry pickers in Finland

“Changing the regulation would have been the only way to change the position of the pickers already for the next harvest season. It was good that we considered the possibility.” Katri Niskanensenior expert from the Ministry of Economy and Labour, comment For YLE on Thursday, February 9.

In the changes, berry pickers would have been defined as seasonal workers instead of light entrepreneurs.

Thai berry pickers can therefore work without an official employment contract at least for the coming harvest season.

Their status is determined by the so-called Marjali law, and they arrive in the country with a tourist visa, the application instructions for which will be issued later by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In turn, the Thai authorities are responsible for the number of visas issued to workers.

Niskanen estimates that companies should have enough time to recruit employees for the coming season.

“Applications from collectors usually don’t come at this stage, but they will start coming only after a couple of months. In that sense, we still have plenty of time, he commented to the public broadcasting company.

Birgitta Partanen, executive director of the Arctic Flavors Association, welcomed the news of the timeout and argued that scrapping the formal employment requirement is a step in the right direction. However, many questions remain unanswered.

“There are no visa instructions. The Finnish authorities have not held negotiations with the Thai authorities. There is a lot to be done,” he said.

He added that the situation is challenging for berry companies. “We have to take action without delay. The longer we wait, the more difficult things will become and the more expensive it will be to arrange flights, for example.

Partanen said that the entire industry hopes that the legislation will be developed in cooperation with companies and experts. Going forward, according to him, the existing berry law could be developed.

– Of course there are shortcomings, but last season showed that it works and the control works. We would probably get better results by developing it than making hasty decisions.

Niskanen from the Ministry of Economy and Labor assured that efforts to strengthen the position of berry pickers will continue. The next government, he added, will decide whether to achieve this by introducing labor contracts in the sector or by developing the existing system based on the law of berries.

“We at the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment are ready to prepare it in accordance with the government’s schedule wishes. I’m not going to speculate on the schedule, he told YLE.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT

Source: The Nordic Page

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