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Paper: Workers at Olkiluoto forced to pay protection money to mafia

According to the journal of the Finnish Centre for Pensions, workers coerced to work for a Bulgarian firm owned by the mafia have had to pay protection money. Bulgarian painters employed by the firm at the Olkiluoto 3 construction site have been forced to pay 50 euros weekly to the crime syndicate. Minister of Labour Lauri Ihalainen described the news as unbelievable.

Olkiluoto3
Image: Jari Pelkonen / Yle

The employees involved are reluctant to pursue the issue owing to threats made against their families back home.

The journal reports overtime payments and other benefits are frequently ignored on the construction site of the Olkiluoto 3 nuclear reactor in Eurajoki on Finland's west coast.

According to a representative of the Finnish Metalworkers’ Union, Janne Vainio, wages have been unpaid and employees have been told not to join a union. Employers also reneged on social security payments, Vainio told the publication.

Vainio went on to tell the journal that many foreign employees accept poorer conditions in the absence of work at home. Often the pay they receive at Olkiluoto is higher than that in their home country. For example, a construction worker from Moldova earns on average 200 euros a month.

The power utility Teollisuuden Voima (TVO) said Friday news of possible mafia connections to some employees at Olkiluoto had come as a complete surprise.

Minister of Labour: situation unbelievable

In further reaction, Minister of Labour Lauri Ihalainen says the news of possible mafia connections sounds unbelievable.

“These problems have continued for many years. Promises to improve conditions have come and gone. There is something very wrong here,” the Minister commented on the situation.

He reminded that Finnish working conditions and rules of play apply across the country also at the Olkiluoto site. In his view, the contracting utility also had to bear its own responsibility.

Ihalainen admitted the resources and powers given to officials were inadequate in some cases.

”The name of the game should be that officials did not have to intervene because all sides were playing by the rules. Working agreements and legislation provided a good framework for this,”  Ihalainen added in an interview given to Yle.

 

 

 

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