Yle (Finland): the collector of berries notorious for poor working conditions, but it should not be

Come strawberry season, and gathering berries work best. Despite closed due to coronaries border, the handful of aliens still managed to get to Finland to work.

This year the Finns showed an unexpectedly large interest in the opportunity to work as a collector of berries. One of the main reasons for mass layoffs because of the epidemiological crisis.

But now that we are slowly returning to normal life, agriculture really need foreign labor.

“We are very grateful that we have seasonal workers for this summer”, — says the owner of strawberry farm Keskus in Helsinki Pirjo Holmen (Pirjo Holmén).

The most foreign of berry pickers in Finland come from the Ukraine. They are attracted to including the level of wages, which is much higher than in their homeland.

“Some in one summer can earn an amount corresponding Ukrainian annual salary,” says Holmen.

Finland popular in Ukraine

This year due to the coronavirus situation with the collection of berries is somewhat different. Out of 15 thousand Ukrainian seasonal workers who usually come in the summer in Finland this year came only about a hundred.

On the eco farm of Keskula this year, employs about 20 workers, 15 of them are from Ukraine. Among them Tatyana Vogler.

“Here we have everything you need. It’s warm and good conditions of work,” she says.

The collector of berries is physically difficult, because you have a long time to squat under the scorching sun.

“It is important to take breaks and place to stay there,” says Pirjo Holmen.

But good working conditions is not guaranteed. Last week, the discussion about the conditions of life and work of berry pickers broke out in earnest. The newspaper Helsingin Sanomat told about a hostel for of berry pickers in North Savolax where they live in appalling conditions.

“I heard about the dorms, where dirty and mold in the corners, absolutely no amenities, no hot water, for example. Of course, this must have something to do,” says Vogler.

In Ukraine, Vogler heard about Finland a lot of good. “We hear that in Finland purely that there is a high salary, and people are joyful, friendly and happy.”

Working conditions of berry pickers are not always good

The summer collector of berries of the infamous unfair treaties, the unclear instructions, delays of salaries and poor working conditions. Yle writes that some of berry pickers last year we had to sleep in cramped containers, boxes and barns.

The head of the control Department of the Ministry of social Affairs and health Arto Teronen (Arto Teronen) Helsingin Sanomat stated that, in his opinion, it is only some unscrupulous employers, and most farm workers are treated well.

“It is important that we take care of each other. And all you need to apply the same, regardless of where a person came”, — says Pirjo Holmen.

In the summer the Committee on the protection of workers ‘ rights sends inspectors to the farm more often than at other times. Their task is to monitor that the workers there are treated well.

This year, the regional office of the Ministry received not many complaints of poor working conditions of berry pickers, but, as a rule, they start to crumble towards the end of the season.

Picking berries is hard work from morning till evening, but Tatiana Vuglar not complaining.

“But I still hope that the situation in Ukraine will improve and we won’t have to work abroad,” she says.