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08.04.2024 15:45

Peer networks and trainings to empower immigrants in services sectors

An ever-growing share of service sector workers are immigrants. It means the union’s services and activities change and evolve to reflect that fact.

PAM’s union congress in October took a strong stance for diversity and against discrimination. So, an important part of the union’s strategy is to develop all activities to better include and empower immigrant members and improve services to meet the needs of members. In addition, new activities and trainings will be developed in a separate project.

Network Coordinator Miikka Leinonen and Trainer-Developer Piia Pulkkinen talk with enthusiasm about the plans to develop new approaches.

Knowhow and community in peer networks

Regional peer networks for immigrants working in the services sectors will be established as part of the project.

The first network will be founded in the Helsinki-Uusimaa region during Spring 2024 and the second in South-Western Finland in Autumn. Based on the lessons learnt networks will be launched in all PAM regions.

— The peer networks will organise the activities the participants want. So, what the network will do in practice and what issues they want to explore depends entirely on the participants themselves. They know best what they want and need, says Leinonen.

In the networks participants get to increase their knowhow, but also to make immigrants’ status in Finland better together.

— There’s a lot of working alone in the services sectors, so I hope the networks also have a social function in getting to meet others in the same situation, continues Leinonen.

Read more about PAM’s peer networks for immigrant workers

Improving Finnish skills and working life knowhow

PAM has for years offered language courses and some events in English for immigrant members. The Learn Finnish courses have been popular, with more applicants than the groups can accommodate.

— Firstly, we want to provide more language trainings. Secondly, we want to develop new trainings for members who don’t yet speak Finnish well enough for active participation in for example trainings in Finnish about collective agreements or other trainings for active members, says Pulkkinen.

Investment in training staff representatives

Part of the project is also to develop new trainings for union representatives and occupational safety and health representatives. They have key roles in the work communities.

— We’ll provide trainings on diversity, inclusion, and plain language, as well as materials to support staff representatives in their work with members.

Leinonen and Pulkkinen share the vision that immigrant workers voices must be heard loud and clear in PAM, at the workplace, and in society at large.

Text: Hildur Boldt
Picture: Anna Autio