Polish workers at Olkiluoto earning slave wages

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Evidence has come to light suggesting that cheap labour is being employed at the construction site of the Olkiluoto 3 nuclear power plant on the Finnish west coast. At worst, some Polish workers are paid less than two euros an hour.

A Polish electrician who wishes to remain anonymous told YLE that the dearth of jobs in his home country drove him to seek work at Olkiluoto. The man says it took him some time to realise he was being short-changed.

"For the first three months I was left with 1000 zlotys. Later I received 2,500 zlotys per month," he said.

The roughly 250 euro monthly salary is printed on pay slips obtained by YLE.

The Finnish Electrical Workers' Union says this is not an isolated case.

The electric utility Teollisuuden Voima (TVO) says it has no evidence of pay irregularities. But it plans to look into its subcontractors. The Finnish Construction Trade Union previously voiced concerns regarding subcontracting chains at Olkiluoto that are difficult to trace.

The Finnish Electrical Workers' Union meanwhile says it plans to take the man's former employer to court.

Voices of condemnation
Minister of Labour Lauri Ihalainen considers this a problematic case.

“If it’s true, then it’s against all of our contracts and basic legislation,” he said.

Chair of the blue-collar union SAK Lauri Lyly has also condemned the reported happenings, albeit in stronger words.

“This is straight-up stealing from employees,” he stated.

Finland now has four working nuclear reactors. The fifth is under construction at Olkiluoto, but is far behind schedule and over budget.

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