If Finland treats racism and discrimination with kid gloves, a social movement can help

by , under Enrique Tessieri

Isn’t it sad to note how the Finnish media now discovers that migrants get paid less and have lower social security benefits than Finns?  Some, even union leaders like Sture Fjäder of Akava, go as far to state that unskilled migrants should get paid less. He later apologized for such a statement but won a confidence vote to keep his job. 

Even Finland’s Nobel Prize in economics, Bengt Holmström, said that white Finns must not share power and privileges with migrants and their children. In other words, they should get lower salaries social security benefits – are you ready for this?! – so that it does not irritate Finns.

Read the full story in Migrant Tales here.

Unbelievable, no?

But if you want to look deeper, all these comments and denial by the media, politicians and the public shows that Finland lacks the will and resolve to treat migrants and minorities as equal members of society. It exposes as well that racism and discrimination are deeply embedded in Finnish society.

Lower pay and lower social security benefits for migrants and minorities did not happen today or the previous week but has happened for decades.

I wonder how many people and journalists have read Pasi Suakkonen’s study, Maahanmuuttajen kotoutuminen Helsingissä (2016)? The study points out that migrants make annually on average nationally 27.3% less (21,479 euros versus 29,550 euros by Finns), and in Helsinki 38.5% less (22,286 euros versus 36,239 euros) than Finns.

Do they know that unemployment on average is 2-3 times higher among migrants than the national average? Do they know that migrant wages are so low in Helsinki that such people usually have to turn to financial support to get by?

It is the same story when it comes to social welfare. Since migrants have lower salaries than Finns, it’s clear their social welfare benefits are lower as well, according to Statistics Finland researcher Pekka Myrskylä.

Myrskylä writes: “Generous social welfare benefits to migrants appear to be an urban legend. Since migrants make a quarter less than natives, welfare benefits are smaller since they hinge on earnings-related subsidies.”

The Statistics Finland researcher stated that the gap in unemployment benefits between migrants and Finns is 39% (15,000 euros versus 9,400 euros) and up to 59% for those who are outside the labor force (7,500 euros versus 3,100 euros).

So here is the big question: Why are the media, politicians and the public blind to the above-mentioned discrimination that encourages lower salaries and social welfare benefits? Is it because Finland is in denial and/or is it because it is a conspiracy of silence to do absolutely nothing to correct the situation?

In light of the latter, it would be naïve to believe that Finland will come to our rescue and treat us as equal members of society. The only ones that can change the present situation are migrants, minorities and sensible Finns.

This is a political question and it requires political solutions – not quaint debates about how much we are against racism and discrimination.

We must stand up do as Rosa Parks did in 1955.


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