European Network Against Racism report highlights Finland’s racism and discrimination challenges

by , under Enrique Tessieri

Shadow reports on racism in Europe by the European Network Against Racism (ENAR) reveals something we’ve not known and written about on Migrant Tales for a long time. Apart from racism and discrimination happening in employment, the question behind the question is why is this still an issue? Why are governments still doing too little?

Näyttökuva 2014-3-21 kello 9.26.27

Read full report here.

Unemployment in Finland is three times higher than the national average, which stood at 8.5% in January, according to Statistics Finland. Even so, you rarely if ever hear politicians or the media bring this fact to public attention. Certainly some do but to show how much of a problem and burden migrants are to our society.

While there are some bold moves to change the current situation like the municipality of Helsinki, which is trying out job applications from anonymous job applications, too little is being done.

The Social Democratic Party of Finland is calling that anonymous applications  for state and municipal jobs should be standard practice throughout Finland.

While anonymous job applications clearly show that the migrant unemployment problem may reside with the employer’s prejudices when hiring, one of the key arguments used not to hire migrants and visible minorities is poor Finnish- language skills.

While this may be in some cases, too many Finns, like Finnish-language teachers, place too much emphasis on language. While learning Finnish or Swedish is crucial, it’s not a panacea.

One has only to go to Spain, where there are large Latin American migrant groups who speak Spanish as their native language and are even Catholics. Despite having the same language and religion, discrimination and racism still take place. It shows that adaption and integration are a complex process that hinges on many factors.

Simplifying a social ill like exclusion, racism and discrimination waters down our response to challenge such issues because we lose sight of the other culprits that play equally important roles in the problem.

Just like the U.S. Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s, improving employment among migrants and minorities should be a key priority. It should also be a clarion call of migrants and minorities in Finland and Europe.

So what does the ENAR shadow report on Finland, which cites Migrant Tales as a source, say?

Below are some of its recommendations in the 2013 report:

  • There should be a concerted campaign through for, instance, diversity training and race awareness education to counter Finnish employers’ prejudice towards hiring migrants and ethnic minorities.
  • Migrants and ethnic minorities should be encouraged to report discrimination and discriminatory practices at work. They need to be assured by, for example, by NGOS and employment protection bodies such as the Regional State Administrative Agencies about the safeguards against victimisation and harassment prescribed in Finnish legislation.
  • Recruitment regulations should be clear and straightforward, and enshrined in law, with clear penalties and sanctions for violating them.
  • Finnish anti-discrimination legislation should be streamlined, and being able to file complaints under it should be made easier for migrants and other ethnic minorities. At the moment, there are diverse provisions of anti-discrimination legislation, which makes it difficult for migrants and even representatives of the native population to understand them.
  • As a result of the dismantling of the labour offices, which were part of a nationwide reform, such offices should again be available to all unemployed migrants and ethnic minorities.
  • The labour offices should be structured to cater for the employment needs of migrants and ethnic minorities.
  • Trade unions and other non-governmental organizations should be more active in fighting labour market discrimination and promote multiculturalism.