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Union against the racism machine

– Carlos Carrara

The Finnish working life is not free from racism. Foreigners living in Finland encounter discrimination in working life, and it may be difficult for them to find employment. The union gives information and supports its members in unfair situations.

A very skilled person with PhD working as a cleaner or caregiver or washing dishes. A Finn with a foreign name who stays unemployed for a long time because their CV is not appreciated by HR departments or recruiting parties. A position in a company is given to a Finn fresh from the university, while a foreigner with language skills and much more work experience is left without any feedback on why this happened. A giant barrier for promotion, even if your social and professional skills are better. Barriers to get a work schedule that could fit studies. Profiling while in integration program, that cuts off opportunities to your own professional desires. If you live in Finland as a foreigner, you have probably heard or even faced some of these cases that are totally unexpected for the happiest country of the world. 

There are many explanations for each individual case. Many of them are justified by the lack of language knowledge, even if you have all certifications needed to prove the opposite. 

In reality, structural racism affects the life of many who have decided to live in Finland, build their families, and are trying to be part of society as working force.

Some of the right-wing parties reinforce a lot this kind of attitude. Knowing how to protect yourself from some of these situations in work life is the proposal of this writing. For that, there are some steps that might help you mitigate some problems at your workplace.  

  1. Some people don’t realize that they are promoting a hazardous work environment. To keep calm is the main key of the whole process. Sometimes, an open conversation during a coffee break is enough. 
  2. If you feel that the situation is not personalized, check if other colleagues have the same feeling. If so, encourage the group to write some common guidelines that could help to mitigate the problem.  
  3. Although, if the situation is such that people are already afraid of losing their job, the Shop Steward or the Occupational Safety and Health representative of your workplace should be involved. If your workplace doesn’t have one, contact the Union.
  4. If you feel that the situation is already affecting your mental health, remember that the law is made for all workers. The Employer is in charge of the personnel’s well-being at work.  

One of the key roles of the Union is to back the members up with councilors, courses and lawyers. It doesn’t matter whether you’re Finnish born or a foreigner.  

In any case, it is very important to keep calm and to not react. Share your problems following these guidelines listed. It can take time, but a solution will come to you. Remember that your physical and mental health must always come first. And, sometimes, it is better to you look for better work opportunities while the Union lawyer is taking care of your case. And, the Union can also help you to understand the terms of your contract. 

While workers are not actively united, the structures are still going to keep people with foreign background outside society. For this, your action is very important. Bring your workmates to the Union. Be an active member.

The Union offers courses where you can learn about your rights totally free of charge and in many different languages.

And, if you feel that you have a bit of a fighting spirit to make things better, you can be sure that there will be many other people to back you up on your journey as council representative. 

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