The City of Helsinki is investigating the payment of wages to Estonian construction workers at a city-owned building that is under renovation in Käpylä. Estonian workers at the site told Helsingin Sanomat on Wednesday that they had not been paid on schedule.
The Estonians’ employer is an Estonian-owned company, which works as a subcontractor of the Finnish company in Käpylä.
“We agreed that the company should clarify the situation by Friday next week. We want to see the pay slips and documents which prove that payment has been on time”, says Risto Mykkänen, head of construction at the Helsinki Housing Production Department (ATT).
The city also wants to find out if the company has drawn up a proper agreement on occupational health services.
Mykkänen says that Helsinki wants to fight shady practices in the construction industry.
“When subcontractors are chosen for our building sites, we ask them to show the papers required by the law on buyers’ responsibility. They show, among other things, that the company has no tax arrears, and that it has taken care of its pension insurance payments.”
“But the further a worker is from us, the more difficult the control. The Estonians who we met in Käpylä did not speak Finnish”, Mykkänen said.
ATT representatives visited the Käpylä site on Thursday along with representatives of the Finnish Construction Trade Union and the main contractor.
Mikk Manillets, who had told Helsingin Sanomat about the pay arrears, was not at the site. His employer said that he had travelled to Estonia to be with his ill wife.
Manillets could not be reached by telephone.
Reiko Kuusk, another employee who had complained about unpaid wages, now insisted that everything was fine.
“The situation was a bit funny, with the owner of the subcontracting firm standing next to us”, noted Kari Koivunurmi, regional official of the Construction Trade Union.
The City of Helsinki proposed after Thursday’s meeting that the city, the Construction Union, and occupational safety authorities should work together to fight abuses linked with the use of foreign workers.