PAM’s Ylitalo: The way to counter social dumping is through collective agreements, monitoring and criminalisation of underpay
Speaking at the Parliament of Finland on Wednesday, Jaana Ylitalo called for more effective regulation.
A range of tools are needed to curb various forms of exploitation of workers in the labour market, i.e. social dumping. PAM’s Collective Bargaining Director, Jaana Ylitalo, highlights collective agreements, laws and public authorities’ resources.
In the opinion of PAM’s Collective Bargaining Director Jaana Ylitalo, eliminating so-called social dumping will take more effective collective agreements as well as monitoring by the authorities and own checks by companies, for example in subcontractor chains. Now that even intentional underpaying goes unpunished, such cases should be criminalized. This was Ylitalo’s conclusion at the seminar Social dumping – what can we do at the Parliament of Finland on Wednesday.
Factors such as seasonal work and the lack of a common language can lead to working conditions being undercut, and companies that cheat derive unfair advantage. For example, there is a need to increase immigrants’ knowledge of working life.
"Workers can show a strong degree of commitment, but in some cases that commitment is abused", Ylitalo said.
She gave examples of cases where PAM has had to deal with, for example, problems of underpay or occupational health and safety. Persons who are in the country without a residence permit are especially at risk. For example, it is impossible for victims of human trafficking to make a genuine choice in situations where they are weighing up on the one hand substandard working conditions or meagre pay and on the other fear of losing their entire livelihood or being expelled from the country. In Ylitalo’s opinion, more humane alternatives are required in such situations.
Jaana Ylitalo also talked about raising the liability of client companies in subcontracting. This would require reform of the law on client liability. More also needs to be done on occupational health and safety and human trafficking offences. Ylitalo would not abolish the foreign labour availability consideration, but the system should be made more just and brought more in line with the present situation.
Ylitalo pointed out that social dumping is a broad term covering less severe and more serious phenomena from zero-hours agreements to human trafficking. In service sectors problems exist for example in the cleaning and restaurant sector. Digital temporary work platforms, the so-called gig economy, are bringing in a new set of problems.
"I think that the gig economy and new forms of working are huge opportunities, but if they cause social dumping, we need to change course. It is not acceptable to have a large increase in the number of self-employed persons without regulation ", Ylitalo said.
Like Ylitalo, Maarit Feldt-Ranta MP (sd.) mentioned a news item on Yle on Tuesday reporting that occupational health and safety inspections in the restaurant sector often revealed for example underpay and other issues, and that problems even existed in large companies. She also stated that social dumping is a reality in Finland too.