PAM Magazine 6/15: "Immigrants ought to have some power within the union"
PAM members elected 393 delegates to the massive Congress due to be held in early June. One of them is Bhuiyan Nurer Zaman.
Bhuiyan Nurer Zaman works part-time for SOL Palvelut as a ship cleaner on Tallink-Silja ferries. A trained marine biologist in Bangladesh, he decided to run in the Congress elections to increase awareness of the experiences of immigrants. "I want to be the voice for my fellow cleaners," Zaman says.
He goes on to explain that many immigrants feel left out in Finland and that they are not treated equally.
In his own local union branch, representing cleaning and facilities services in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area, Zaman brought in the largest number of votes (60). Bangladeshi and Nepalese people make up the two largest nationality groups of those cleaning Tallink-Silja’s ships. While some votes undoubtedly came from them, there is also another reason for Zaman’s success.
"People like me," he says, flashing a broad smile.
He is one of the handful of immigrant members elected to be Congress delegates. The concept of being an immigrant is ambiguous and it is often used to refer to those members whose language code in PAM’s register is other than Finnish or Swedish. Immigrants are currently the most significantly growing member group in PAM.
"We ought to have some power within the union," Zaman says. He will be disappointed if the Congress does not elect him to PAM’s Executive Committee or Council. He believes that his contribution to the union stems from his culture, from the fact that the Bangladeshi keep smiling even in the face of disaster – they are mentally strong.
Zaman came to Finland about ten years ago, but he has also spent some time in the United States and Canada over the years. This man, who also does some journalistic work, prefers to live with his wife and daughter in Finland, where the political system works and people "smile a lot".
Zaman would like to make a difference within PAM so as to increase workers’ pay. He would also like to promote fair and equal treatment for immigrants at workplaces.
PAM’s Congress will be held from 1 to 3 June in Helsinki and every four years thereafter. The Congress will define the union’s course of action for the next four years, elect union leaders and members of the Council and the Executive Committee.
A total of 393 delegates were elected for the PAM Congress from among 1,536 candidates. Voter turnout languished at 15.7%.