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Left Alliance pushes to criminalize underpayment of wages

The Left Alliance political party has proposed that employers found guilty of paying a wage below the lowest acceptable level agreed upon in Finland’s collective wage agreements should be subject to criminal charges.

Rakennusmies.
Image: Jyrki Lyytikkä / Yle

The parliamentary group of Finland’s political party that sits farthest left on the political spectrum, the Left Alliance, has called for legislation to be drafted that would make it a crime to underpay employees.

The leftist political party says cheating workers out of their rightful wages has become a serious problem in Finland. The country’s largest labour union confederation SAK has previously campaigned for the introduction of the same legislation.

The Left Alliance says foreign-born labour is affected by the deceitful practice the most. There have been known cases in Finland of workers receiving as little as 2-3 euros in hourly compensation. The party says there are too many unscrupulous employers who benefit from underpayment, at the expense of honest employers and loyal employees.

“We want the Finnish labour market to operate in full compliance with the law, with competition that relies on legal and honest means,” says the author of the initiative, Left Alliance MP Jari Myllykoski.

Ten-euro minimum wage

This latest proposal complements another recent call from the Left Alliance: the enactment of a minimum wage of ten euros per hour in Finland.

The party's parliamentary group presented a draft bill in March 2016 to create legislation for a national minimum wage. Finland is one of a handful of western countries that does not have a minimum wage, as wages are traditionally set by industry through collective bargaining contracts. As most of the population in Finland belongs to a union, the unions have been entrusted to negotiate a fair baseline pay rate on behalf of the workers.

Organisations representing Finland’s employers have responded coolly to the Left Alliance's initiatives.

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