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JUHANI ARTTO
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Steelworkers protest against wage dumping concerning
Polish construction workers


Helsinki (05.08.2011 - Juhani Artto) Over one thousand employees at the Rautaruukki steel plant in Raahe join in the two-day strike action that began on Thursday morning. The employees seek to demonstrate their solidarity with the Polish workers who have been repairing a blast furnace at the plant since June.

The Polish workers are victims of wage dumping, the Finnish Construction Trade Union claims. The masons should be paid at least EUR15.54 per hour but their actual wage is EUR4 per hour or even less. This became apparent last week when authorities inspected the plant. In addition, the eleven-hour work days without days of rest - that these Polish workers are expected to do - is a serious breach of the legislation governing working hours.

The German company Beroa, which is subcontracted to undertake the repair work, has committed itself to full compliance with the collective agreement, applicable to the tasks the Polish workers are performing, but in practise the company has chosen to ignore the agreement in a flagrant manner. The strikers are prepared to return to their workplace prior to Saturday morning if the working conditions of the Polish workers are settled properly.

The steel company Rautaruukki has condemned the strike action as illegal. Timo Mäkinen, the deputy shop steward of Rautaruukki's workers is of different opinion. "The strike action is not against the employer and the strikers are not demanding changes in their working conditions. This is purely a protest against Beroa, not Rautaruukki, and in support of the Polish workers", he insists at the leftist net publication Kansan Uutiset.

In Finland, solidarity strikes that do not demand changes to the prevailing collective agreement, are legal.