Salon Seudun Sanomat: Salolaisen maahanmuuttajatalkkarin työsuhde lopetettiin ehkä laittomasti

by , under All categories, Enrique

Comment: Salon Seudun Sanomat reports that the odd-job man who was laid off from his job apparently because of his ethnic background plans to sue his former employer, Salon Omakotiyhdistys ry

The step taken by the laid-off employee is important for a number of reasons. For one, he is not only challenging racial discrimination at his former job but exposing how possibly other Finnish companies hire and fire immigrants. Challenging discrimination at the workplace and elsewhere is important for the sake of our children and future generations.

This case is a good example of how the media can bring to light discrimination in Finland and how it can be addressed.

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Salon omakotiyhdistys rikkoi maahanmuuttajatalkkarin työsuhteen lopettamisessa mahdollisesti kahta lakia. Näin sanoo Lounais-Suomen aluehallintoviraston työsuojelun vastuualueen lakimies Vesa Ullakonoja.

Read whole story.

  1. Jaakko

    I understand that people are shocked because of this incident and it is sad that this kind of things happen, but I don’t it was fair to sue the employer. The employer was willing to hire the man, but if nobody takes the orders from their employee, what can you do? I don’t think it would help much if they would go to meet their customers and tell them “please, don’t be racist anymore. Ok?”. It was a tought and unfair decision for the man, but I probably would have done the same thing in their shoes. The employer wasn’t racist, but the customers were and they should be punished, not the employer… but sadly this is not possible.

    • Enrique

      Hi Jaakko and welcome to Migrant Tales. The customer is not always right in such cases, especially when it comes to discrimination. Leadership is needed even of businessmen and managers.

  2. Niko

    This feels like a lose-lose situation for the employer. If they would have kept him, there wouldn’t be any tasks for him and therefore, no money for the employer. And now that they fired him, they are sued and labeled as racist. What can you do in the situation like this? The problem wasn’t the employer, but the customers. Of course, you can’t sue the customers so the middle man has to pay…

    • Enrique

      Niko, you may say what you may but put yourself in the shoe of the laid-off employee. How would you feel if it was your ethnic background that was the reason why you got the boot? How many complained? I am certain it was a minority. In English we call that caving into pressure.

      How do you think the media would work if they bowed to some of their readers’ opinions? I got a letter from an anonymous reader of Savon Sanomat who said he planned to end his subscription to the paper becuase of what I wrote. My reponse to him: Tough tomatoes.

  3. JusticeDemon

    Niko

    The employer in this case is an association and the customers are all and only members of that association. It’s the association that faces the civil law consequences.

    As Chairman of the association, Jaakko Korpela evidently bears any individual criminal liability attaching to the case. I just hope that to the extent that he considered himself pressured into dismissing this employee, he gets the court to subpoena the members of the association who applied that pressure, so that they can testify to the court concerning the alleged unsuitability of an employee whose services they had not even used.

  4. Niko

    I’m not saying that the decision was fair for the laid-off employee, but what can you do with an employee who doesn’t have the tasks? If I remember correctly, in the first news they said the orders stopped after the janitor started to work, so it wasn’t actually the (direct) complains to the employer.

    It is sad to hear that this kind of thing can even happen in Finland, but from a business perspective you can’t have unproductive employee, even if the reason is not caused by him. Can you really blame the employer in this situation? Of course, I would be pissed off also, but I don’t think I could magically change everybody’s opinion about me.

  5. JusticeDemon

    We don’t accept the argument that a pub may exclude black people because it would lose its regular customers if they were admitted.

    Customers may correspondingly refuse to travel in a bus unless the driver breaks the speed limit and ignores red lights, but we would never accept that this could be a justification for firing the bus driver.

    A customer has no authority to require a business to break the law. If willingness to break the law is a condition of continued custom, then the correct response is to examine the businesses that such customers choose to patronise. This is how Arthur Andersen LLP went to the wall, and rightly so.

  6. Niko

    JusticeDemon

    Yes, I totally agree with you. This is how it SHOULD be, but in real life the business are all about making as much as profits you can get. In this case they couldn’t make profits because of the racist customers. Maybe I’m just too old and cynical, but I don’t see any other way the employer would have handled the situation.

    However, there is a progress in this story:
    http://www.iltasanomat.fi/kotimaa/salon-talonmiesta-pyydetty-takaisin-toihin-/art-1288412644627.html

    Short translation -> the employer wants the laid-off janitor back to work. Hopefully the customers looked in to the mirror and try to be more acceptable, but I wouldn’t keep my hopes up…

  7. JusticeDemon

    Niko

    It’s worth stressing again that the employer in this case is an association seeking to provide a service to its members only.

    Your link includes some interesting new details. It appears that the employment contract was not terminated by rescission during a trial period, but by giving notice. If so, then this opens up the entire subject of proper grounds for giving notice. It also means that in effect the employer is now cancelling that notice. In theory, at least, this means that no damage has occurred and the civil and criminal aspects of the case are moot.

    In any relatively affluent district of small detached houses there are always dozens of minor jobs waiting to be done, and I suspect that the extra publicity that this case has generated for the association’s services will ensure that the oddjob man has plenty to do from now on.

    The racists can sweep up their own leaves and shovel their own snow for a while…

    But what I really want to know is why Tiwaz, Hannu and the rest of our regular jackbooted contributors have been so quiet about this case…

  8. antonio

    Last year I was told by a public lawyer in Helsinki that one thing is justice and another is reality. I paid for this legal consultation and the lawyer used this type of language to me: “do you want t become an email father? give up, live with it”. He was rude, unforthcoming, loud and stood up of his chair to shout those words at me. Luckily I have a witness of that if the authorities want to sue me for making this public. Also the legal consultation didn’t add anything new to what I was already aware off. The only thing it was good for was to give some insight about the quality of the service if I was to choose to be represented by a public lawyer. On my first contact with legal aid in Finland I was promptly told that not being a resident I wouldn’t be eligible for legal aid. I reminded the lady that as far as I am concerned legal aid is available for persons, not only residents and that finland ratified international treaties that state so. The lady replied: yes you are eligible for legal aid. I have received two completely different answers to the same question from the same person, just seconds apart. Maybe she knew the right answer to start with and was just trying to shoo the foreigner away from applying to legal aid. The first time I went to a sossu in finland I was stopped at the door by a bouncer like person. I had an appointment there. When I addressed him in english I got a blunt “suomi tai ruotsi”. This was my first impression of the finnish sossu. In a country that even many job adds for cleaners demand english skills they cannot ask the same for a person doing front office in a place like the sossu. He didn’t even bother to get someone who had a minimal knowledge of english language. I worked as a civil servant in england for sometime and they are keen on training people on how to deal with the public. I also lived in other countries and I have never experienced these type of things from state institutions. There is a lot more I have experienced after that in Finland. Enough to write a book.
    Now about injustice, some of us take it some of us don’t. In my case the stakes are too high for me to take it, I don’t want to and I cannot take it.
    The argument of one thing being real life and another being justice is not valid. Some of us end up putting up a fight against injustice and that is what I have been trying to do, even if it involves breaking the law and personal sacrifice. I admire the people who tried to bring justice in line with reality even in their own detriment.

  9. BoredinFinland

    Antonio, I am not surprised about that comment made by a lawyer. Finnish are the masters of “impression management”….on the paper they claim to be “the number one”, but in reality it is a very different story. It amaizes me to see, for example, that many of the advertisments in public areas, shopping malls, and at my gym, show people from different colours of skin (!) ….of course they need to create (or maintain ?) the idea that they are multicultural and a tolerant Society. Only those of us who ended living here for any kind of reason know that this country is higlhy intolerant towards other way of thinking, living, etc….

  10. JusticeDemon

    BoredinFinland

    Advertising in Finland was not always so diversity-conscious. This is a relatively new phenomenon that partly reflects an increasingly diverse market, but is also partly a deliberate policy to present advertising ideals in terms of such a market.

    I recall a debate some years ago on the question: mikä mainosarvo olisi neekerillä suomalaiselle urheilukenkämarkinalle? This was some years before the likes of Wilson Kirwa appeared on the scene.

    I would view the current policy of advertisers more as part of a solution than as symptomatic of a problem. When did advertising ideals ever entirely reflect any society as it is? The whole point is to portray aspirations.

  11. antonio

    I have seen some brochures from finnish institutions not that long ago in which there were
    pictures of people posing as successful applicants for the projects those brochures advertised. In all those pictures there wasn’t a single person belonging to a non finn ethnic group. It struck me, because I have seen these type of brochures in other countries and it is usual to drop in people from different ethnic groups. It kind of sends a “I can do it too” message. I examined several booklets and found no pictures with people who could be non ethnic finns. I don’t know how old these booklets are, but I guess that not more than 3 or 4 years old. They were still being dished out a few months ago at least.

    When I wrote about breaking the law I had Rosa Parks in mind, nothing more radical then that.

    Cases like the one in this thread should me made an example. In Finland racism and xenophobia is coming out in the open with help from the PS. It is strong and palpable but it has been done in a dissimulated way. I don’t even think that it can be debated properly in Finland, if there are enough people who really understand and are sensitive to the problem or if are there enough educated listeners who would understand them. Soini’s message is being listened by many on the other hand.
    Times are changing, they have always been since time itself started. People move around more than they used to and information is instantaneous. Some of the changes are good and some are not so good. For xenophobe racists the fault for what they perceive as bad changes can easily and unequivocally be attributed to foreigners. They don’t let their perspective be controlled by facts, just by feelings. Being a xenophobe racist is a irrational thing, they don’t have reason backing up their convictions. No hard data behind it. They don’t let people from the outside to integrate and accuse them of not being good because they don’t integrate.
    What would be if those who want to raise walls in finland find them selves walled up?
    Maybe some people there would prefer articles made in finland with a stamp saying “made without the use of foreign labour”

    My reading of the case in this thread is: Everybody is equal in finland, but the finns are so much more equal that a normal group of them wouldn’t even want their pavements swept by black foreign immigrants.

    Many many jobs advertised there would save up a lot of paper and be more environment friendly if they just say the truth – foreigners need not apply.

    • Enrique

      Hi Antonio, thank you for bringing up some very good questions. I believe, unfortunately, that you are right: “Everybody is equal in finland, but the finns are so much more equal that a normal group of them wouldn’t even want their pavements swept by black foreign immigrants.”

      Of all the Finnish political parties, the PS are the ones driving for this type of Finland: “us” and “them.”

      Here is an interesting link, which asks an important question that could apply very well to Finland: “Am I a racist? I hope not. But if I’m not a racist and you’re not and neither is anyone else this country, how can we collectively end up with a million black men in prison and such stark and persistent racial differences in terms of education, wealth, and life expectancy?”

  12. antonio

    just another thought I would like to share about racism and xenophobia and how it works in peoples minds…

    Can you imagine what hakkarainen would say about a group of FOREIGN young delinquents if they broke into a local church and stole the silver, the money and the wine?
    that is how it works

    If you want you can google “hakkarainen kirkko”

    • Enrique

      Antonio, as you immigrants and minorities have to be twice as good/qualified as a Finn. If they commit a crime or do mistake at work, it comes under more scrutiny than normal.

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