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24.04.2023 14:55

Hoping for fair play

Three cases are before the District Court of Ostrobothnia having to do with complaints lodged by young people who worked in ice cream kiosks last summer. The young people are demanding pay for their work in line with the collective agreement for the commerce sector.

These complaints are not the only ones pending. In the autumn for the last three years, PAM has taken on disputes about underpayment and non-payment of commerce sector supplements.

One of those lodging a complaint is Janne, 17 (not his real name). Last May he was desperately searching for a summer job. Time was running out. Luckily he spotted an online ad for an ice cream salesperson by Sillankorvan Yrttijuusto Oy of South Ostrobothnia. He applied and was soon told he had got the job. But then things started to go wrong.

An employment contract was supposed to be signed at the start of the job, but Janne’s employer didn’t seem all that bothered. The contract only materialised after several reminders. The hourly rate was 7 euros 34 cents, including a 10 per cent holiday compensation. Evening and Sunday supplements would not be paid at all.

Janne’s father had his doubts about the hourly pay in the contract, which was well below the minimum level in the commerce sector collective agreement. The collective agreement also sets out evening and Sunday work supplements for sales staff, which the employer wasn’t going to pay.

Now three young people who worked in Sillankorvan Yrttijuusto ice cream kiosks last summer are claiming unpaid wages through the District Court.

Aiming for a positive summer job experience

Lawyer Henry Vähtäri of PAM’s collective bargaining department admires the young persons’ courage.

“If you are an underage employee in your first job and your wages haven’t been paid in line with the collective agreement, the only way is to lodge a complaint.”

Vähtäri finds it incomprehensible that the same company is doing things wrong from one year to the next. He finds it regrettable that a young person has to take legal action over their first job.

“The Regional State Administrative Agency (AVI) has done inspections and given guidance, but the company is still doing things wrong. It’s not as if they didn’t know.”

Vähtäri guesses that because it’s a short summer job and not that much money’s at stake, the employer is relying on young persons not questioning the pay they get.

“It’s really unfortunate for these young people that their employer doesn’t observe even the minimum legal requirements. Their impression of working life is starting off in the wrong direction entirely.”

Vähtäri points out that young people should make sure that they get at least the minimum wages in the collective agreement, proper orientation training for the job and the chance to take statutory breaks during their shift.

Sillankorvan Yrttijuusto is again advertising ice cream sales jobs for the summer. Vähtäri hopes that this time the employment contracts and pay will be correct.

PAM knows the names of the father and the son, but they don’t want their names to be published. The managing director of Sillankorvan Yrttijuusto didn’t respond.

Summer job checklist