Immigrants and the young are most at risk of being underpaid by their employer. That’s according to the service sector union PAM, which negotiates and polices collective agreements governing pay and conditions in several areas of the economy.
Those agreements mean that workers should be paid at least the minimum set down in the collective contracts, and receive other benefits and conditions laid down sector-by-sector. Young people and immigrants are the groups most likely to be unaware of their rights, according to PAM.
“A typical case is where a person who doesn’t have information on their own rights agrees a contract where the pay is clearly less than that laid down in the collective agreement,” says PAM vice-chair Kaarlo Julkunen. “People with weaker language skills can easily become victims of this.”
Julkunen says that the union only usually hears about cases like this once a friend or colleague tips off the victim. Even so, he says that the union only gets to deal with a fraction of the problems.
“This is just the tip of the iceberg,” said Julkunen, who says that smaller hotel and restaurant businesses are often the worst offenders. “I believe that the number is many times bigger than this, if you think about young people and immigrants who aren’t getting the right salary.”
PAM offers advice on employment issues via a helpline.