10,000 euros for a work permit: How a Vantaa cleaning company exploits foreigners

by , under Enrique Tessieri

An Iraqi, 33, who came to Finland in 2015, alleges that his employer of a Vantaa cleaning company asked him for 10,000 euros to give him a letter to the Finnish Immigration Service so he’d get a residence permit. He made a deal with the Finnish employer in 2019, and he would pay the sum by working long hours and for lower pay. 

The Iraqi said that he knows of 4-5 other employees at the company who were in the same situation as he.

The present case is an example of how some employers take advantage of vulnerable migrants who want to get a residence permit but need a job.

Even if the employee in the drawing appears happy, it is a very different story for many migrants who are exploited by cleaning companies in order to get a residence permit. Source: GoogleSheets

“I work long 16- to 18-hour days seven days a week for 10.50 euros an hour,” he said. “I have worked for the firm for three years and never got a vacation, never mind vacation pay or overtime, either.”

A person with no experience can make 11.25 euros an hour and up to 11.82 an hour if they have experience. A degree in cleaning from a vocational school can get you over 12 euros an hour.

The Iraqi, who does not know how much he is supposed to make after working long hours because his pay slips don’t reflect the actual hours he works, ended up recently in a heated argument with the owner, who had not paid him for two months.

The incident led to shouting and pushing with the police arrived. With no interpreter, the police told the Iraqi to contact Riku, a victim support group.

Taking into account the alleged abuse by the company, it is surprising that the police did not have an interpreter or told the Iraqi to get in touch with Occupational Safety and Health Administration in Finland, which handles problems between employees and employers. Other bodies that come to mind is the Regional State Administrative Agency (AVI).

The Iraqi, who was told he had no more work at the Vantaa cleaning company after he started to demand the employer about payment, said that the employer threatened to fire him if he complained or joined a union.

Migrant Tales will continue reporting about this case.

For further reading: What you are never told and should know about working life in Finland