The greenhouse business is expanding rapidly in the city of Närpes in Western Finland, but a recent investigation indicates that it is partly at the expense of vulnerable Vietnamese workers.
Media HBL writes in a recent article 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.
Although the case is still under investigation, HBL writes that the case reportedly involves a systematic and long-term import of Vietnamese labor to, amongst other places, certain large greenhouses in Närpes. A local mediator in Vietnam is said to have taken between 10,000 and 20,000 euros per person to get the workers to Finland. Once there, the workers received help in obtaining the necessary permits and were in principle put to work immediately after under improper conditions.
Among those who arrived were singles, couples, and families with children and the police relates the case to human trafficking and exploitation.
Only four victims have so far dared to talk to the police but Crime Commissioner Pekka Hätönen, who heads the human trafficking group at the Helsinki Police Department, says they suspect that it was dozens of people over the years.
The local Vietnamese couple who are the suspected key figures in the case were recently detained by the police. But because the Vietnamese community in Närpes is considered to be very closed it is difficult to get anyone to open up about the working conditions.
The now detained couple’s business is established and reportedly widely known in the area and rumors are also circulating that besides importing cheap labor, they are also involved in cannabis sales and prostitution.
The police are aware of these rumors, but have not been able to gather credible witnesses who have been able to verify the information, HBL writes.
The case is expected to go to court in two months.