Närpes authorities take immediate measures following exploitation case of Vietnamese workers 

A group of authorities from the Finnish town of Närpes met last week to, among other things, investigate the real situation of the Vietnamese workers and to get the recruitment processes in Närpes in order, HBL writes.

A couple of weeks ago it was revealed that dozens of Vietnamese workers are believed to have fallen victim to mass exploitation in a case where both a local Vietnamese couple and two local greenhouse entrepreneurs are among the suspects. The Vietnamese workers have reportedly paid between 10,000 and 20,000 euros to get to Finland where they were forced to work 15 hour days in a greenhouse in Närpes to work off their debt from the travel expenses. Moreover, it’s been revealed that the workers lived under improper conditions deemed harmful to health. So far, there are a handful of plaintiffs, but the police have estimated that the case could involve 50 or more Vietnamese workers.

During last week’s meeting, representatives from Närpes, the NTM center, the Regional State Administrative Agency, the police, the greenhouse entrepreneurs, the Swedish Producers’ Association of Ostrobothnia, Migri, and the Ministry of Employment and the Economy participated and decided to sort out the overall situation as soon as possible.

Timo Saari, chief director of the NTM center, who led the meeting, says, “We were told that things happened that we should have seen, but have not seen. There seems to be a parallel society that needs action.”

As the Vietnamese workers worked long hours, concerns regarding their children who came with them to Finland have also arisen. During the meeting, the social side of Ostrobothnia’s welfare area was able to confirm that the concern is not unjustified and said:

“It is not entirely clear how these people lived and there is cause for concern when it comes to these families. For the children, there have been problems as the parents work so much that the children have had to start taking responsibility for themselves too soon. Many people do not trust the authorities and therefore they do not dare speak up about what really happened.”

The case also brings problems on how workers are recruited to Finland to light and during the meeting it emerged that many local greenhouse owners did not realize the risks involved in recruiting Vietnamese workers. 

During the meeting, it was therefore decided that a checklist to employers regarding the recruitment process is needed together with crisis assistance for the Vietnamese workers.

Many have been shocked during the process and because they do not speak Finnish or Swedish they are dependent on what other Vietnamese workers say. This is not just a problem in the town of Närpes but also in the towns of Kaskö and Kristinestad which may also have had Vietnamese workers affected by the case. 

Moreover, it was decided that Social care resources must be reviewed and that an immigrant council must be established where people in low-income industries can get help in their own language.

About Gregers Møller

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

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