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Chinese Cleaners Paid Secret Commissions to Work at SOL

Some Chinese cleaners were forced pay thousands of euros to their Chinese staffing company to get a cleaning job at cleaning company SOL. Police are launching a preliminary investigation into the Chinese workers' employment conditions.

Some of the Chinese cleaners paid up to 8,000 euros to get a job in Finland, tells Service Union United PAM on its website. Chinese workers had to pay commission fees to their staffing company in China, says the union.

Double Contracts Workers coming to Finland signed clandestine contracts with their Chinese staffing company in addition to the agreement signed with SOL. The Chinese agreement for example binds workers to pay an 8,000 euro commission. The Chinese agreement also promises work at SOL for several years, which is something the Finnish contract does not outline. Many of the workers were forced to take out large loans to pay the commission fee. They were also responsible for paying their flight tickets to Finland and had to cover their own visa costs. In Finland, these cleaners earn about 1,000 euros per month. They are also obliged to pay 250 euros each month for a two-hour weekly Finnish language class. Preliminary Criminal Investigation Launched

Markku Ranta-aho, an inspector at the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), says the commission fee is exorbitant.

"It's preposterous because these people can in no way repay it. They are forced into a situation in which they are at the mercy of their employer. Meanwhile, their debt continues to grow back home," says Ranta-aho.

Riitta Suvanto, a human resources manager at the cleaning firm, told PAM on Tuesday that she had no knowledge of the criminal investigation, nor of the commission fees workers had paid to work at SOL.

"Under no circumstances do we condone commission fees," said Suvanto.

SOL has subcontracted the recruitment of its Chinese labour to Sevirita, a recruitment service provider. Sevirita also coordinates the language courses and living arrangements for the workers. In May, Sevirita director Timo Nyberg said the company uses a broad contact network in China to locate staff for SOL.

SOL has recruited 70 workers from China in the past year.

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