PAM’s expert Mikko Laakkonen: PAM members with immigration background want to improve Finnish working life
According to Mikko Laakkonen, the recently arrived immigrants have the largest need for Union support. Photo: Jaakko Lukumaa
PAM’s immigrant members find that the Union is important but many of them do not even know who their own shop steward is. Those responding the PAM questionnaire were also worried about the employer attitudes.
PAM’s members with an immigration background feel that the Union is important: according to PAM’s questionnaire targeted at immigrants, they seek protection – as any member would – against potential unemployment or working life conflict situations.
“Nevertheless, we should be able to create a closer relationship between the Union and our immigrant members. For example, many of them do not know their shop steward which illustrates the fact", suggests Mikko Laakkonen, PAM's education policy expert who has studied immigration issues.
“Many respondents would like to improve the Finnish working life, and this gives us hope. In fact, PAM wants to be their tool to improve their own position in the labour market. Of course, this also applies to native Finnish members.”
About three out of four respondents have been living in Finland over 5 years.
“However, those who have recently arrived, with perhaps no language skills yet or very little information about the ground rules applied to employment, are often the most vulnerable to exploitation and would therefore have the greatest need for a union”, Mikko adds.
The difficulty in finding a job and the lack of language skills are generally recognised problems (see graph below). Over 70% of the respondents think that the employers’ negative attitudes play a fairly or very big role and according to Mika Laakkonen, this is “a hard piece of news”.
“Has the atmosphere in the employment sector become harsher and tougher over the past few years? It seems more acceptable in society in general to express negative opinions about immigrants, but is this also visible at the workplaces? We should discuss this with the employers.”
A larger share of the respondents have temp jobs, compared to PAM members on average. Otherwise, their labour market situation is not significantly different from that of other respondents.
PAM’s immigration survey was responded by about 1700 members in October and November 2017.