Finnish greenhouse entrepreneurs want authorities to help spot trafficking

Them Dinh Luu has worked in Finnish greenhouses for nine years. Image: Moa Mattfolk / Yle

Following the case about exploited Vietnamese workers in the city of Närpes, Finnish greenhouse entrepreneurs are now asking the authorities for more help recruiting uncoerced foreign labor, YLE writes.

In January, a case about systematic and long-term import of Vietnamese labor, including to certain large greenhouses in Närpes, emerged. A local mediator in Vietnam is said to have taken between 10,000 and 20,000 euros per person to get his compatriots to Finland where they were forced to work 15 hour days. The Vietnamese workers which include couples and families with children are suspected of being victims of extortion and possibly human trafficking.

Greenhouse owner Börje Ivars has been following the case. His greenhouse is located in Närpes and he employs about 65 people, with the majority being Vietnamese employees.

According to him, the case has been casting a shadow over the entire sector and to YLE he says that he would like the authorities to enforce safeguards to help business owners recruit staff safely.

Jennifer Ivars, Börje Ivars’s daughter who now heads the company’s HR, says to Yle, “Every now and then one of the employees will say they have a mother or cousin who would like to work here, and we’re happy to see families united.” 

“As an employer, you’ve got to take the responsibility and ask who the job candidate really is and try to build an understanding of the family relationship,” she adds.

One of the Vietnamese workers at Börje Ivars greenhouse is Them Dinh Luu, who has been working there for nine years and now oversees 22 other workers. “Närpes has been good to me and my family. My kids are in school and I like working here,” Them, who is looking to become a Finnish citizen, says.

Several of Them Dinh Luu’s family members also work at the same greenhouse and he says that he is aware that not every Vietnamese worker migrating to Finland has had the same positive experience as they have. He believes that newcomers could avoid bad situations if they received more help and support, particularly when it comes to housing.

Börje Ivars’s company provides language lessons on-site and around half of his employees have learned Swedish. But that has not been the case for other Vietnamese workers at other greenhouses which is also why they have not been able to question their inhumane working conditions because they do not know Finnish law and cant speak the language. 

For that reason, Them Dinh Luu has also urged his fellow Vietnamese coworkers to learn Finnish or Swedish.

Börje Ivars hopes that the ongoing police investigation will reach a conclusion soon and that those guilty will be brought to justice. “It’s important to us that we can continue recruiting skilled staff from abroad in the future, but it has to happen safely,” he says.

About Gregers Møller

Editor-in-Chief • ScandAsia Publishing Co., Ltd. • Bangkok, Thailand

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