Broken Promises. Temporary Labour Migrants' Experiences of Working Conditions and Social Security in Finland

Saturday, July 19, 2014: 2:30 PM
Room: 311+312
Oral Presentation
Sanna SAKSELA-BERGHOLM , Swedish School of Social Science, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
West European countries, including Finland have started to recruit more labour migrants to low-income sectors in hope of a partial solution to the consequence of rapidly aging working population. This paper demonstrates how highly skilled labour migrants from non-EU member countries face social disqualification in their efforts to become part of the Finnish labour market. Particularly, African and South-Asian male workers find mainly cleaning or dish-washer jobs despite their academic background.  Our study explored the temporary labour migrants’ experiences of acquiring opportunities to working rights and social security. The results show that the majority of the interviewees had been reluctant to look for information either due to the fact that they were working only temporarily in Finland or due to their week bargaining positions. The information of recruitment, working rights, the Finnish taxation system, and of the Finnish social security rarely reaches the labour migrants. These features can partly be explained by labour and migration policies, and by the natives’ strong creation of ‘otherness’ between the native Finns and the non-white foreigners. In the analysis an intersection of gender, ethnicity and class has been applied to describe the unequal and sometimes precarious position of the labour migrants. The research material consists of documents, memos based on ethnographic observations and of seventy-eight semi-structured interviews, of which forty-nine were conducted among cleaners, bus drivers, and seasonal agricultural workers.