Company exploiting foreign workers up for Helsinki contract

Work-safety inspections this year at about 20 small and medium-sized cleaning companies that employ immigrant workers have discovered problems at every firm checked. Yle has found that the City of Helsinki is considering contracting services from a company that was determined to have employment rules violations.

Image: Arja Lento / Yle

Inspections in the cleaning services sector have uncovered numerous violations. These have included negligence in registering working hours, issues with pay and a number of foreigners employed without work permits.

"This year's most serious problems have to do with foreigners working illegally and notices have been issued concerning the registration of working hours and healthcare," says Joni Mäki, an aliens' affairs inspector for the South Finland Regional State Administrative Agency.

"The people working without permits in the cleaning sector have been citizens of so-called third world countries," Mäki adds. He believes that as the year progresses, inspections will reveal more similar problems in the field.

Helsinki to check background

The City of Helsinki is currently considering contracting services from one of the companies found to guilty of violating employment rules in its employment of foreign workers. Regional Administrative Agency officials say that the company has been negligent in registering hours worked by employees, lacks proper bookkeeping for wages paid and not all of its foreign employees have the right to work in Finland.

A bid by company, which has operated for a decade and employs nearly 100 people, for a window-washing contract has reached the final review stage. Before Yle contacted city authorities about the company, they were unaware that it had been inspected and found to be suspected of violations of the law in its employment practices.

City officials say that contract partners are obliged to observe the law and have pledged to examine the background of the companies that have filed bids for the job.