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Dumped wages for Turkish electricians building Finnish transmission lines

Helsinki (28.09.2010 - Juhani Artto) The Electrical Workers' Union suspects that Turkish electricians are not paid properly for building a new 400 kV transmission line in Southern Ostrobothnia. According to information received by the union directly from the work site, Turkish electricians are paid EUR6.5 per hour. It is only about half of the wage agreed upon by the industry's bargaining parties in their present national collective agreement.

Sauli Väntti, responsible for the union
's work in the energy and ICT
sectors, asked the authorities to look into the case on September 27 to determine whether or not there has been a breach of the collective agreement already in force.

The tender for building the transmission line was won by the German company SAG Gmbh. It has subcontracted the work to the Turkish company Internationale Freileitungsmontage (IFM). At present the latter has 33 employees doing the work in Finland. The EUR 9.5 million project has been commissioned by the Finnish company Fingrid which is the only transmission line operator in Finland. This company -which in effect holds a monopoly position- is owned by the State of Finland, private energy companies and private investors.

According to the work permit applications for the Turkish electricians SAG and IFM pay considerably less wages than what they now say to pay. The Finnish union claims that the German company SAG has consciously tendered using labour costs that are far below the level defined in the national collective agreement.

Väntti is at pains to stress that the union is not against foreign labour but against competition where not everybody follows fair rules. The employment of foreign electricians who are paid paltry wages also hurts the Finnish national economy. Several large and well-established Finnish companies with a proven track record participated in the tender bid.

The Electrical Workers
' Union urges Fingrid to consider its responsibility and ensure contracts are awarded fairly and with due respect to the legislation. "The company must be ready to control -and when necessary be able to produce evidence- that the winner of the tender is committed to abiding by Finnish legislation and guarantee down to the last unit of its subcontractor chain pay their employees according to the Finnish collective agreement", the union insists.

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