Juha Marttila, chairman of MTK, the Confederation of Finnish Agricultural and Forestry Producers, is demanding quick action from the government to secure seasonal agricultural labor.

According to Marttila, if seasonal labor cannot be secured, it can result in farm collapses and a reduction in production.

Marttila says that more than a month ago, MTK, together with the Confederation of Finnish Industry, sent the government a list of paragraph 8, in which it hopes to safeguard the operating conditions of agriculture during the exceptional period caused by the coronavirus.

According to Marttila, things have not progressed in a month, but have gone even worse.

Most recently, the Ukrainian government has decided not to allow its citizens to go on seasonal work abroad.

- Our own embassy in Ukraine has just learned that our flights next week and next week will not be able to leave Ukraine for Finland, said Chief of Staff Jaana Husu-Kallio from the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry to the Rural Future.

  • Read more: MT: Ukraine will no longer allow its citizens seasonal work abroad

According to Marttila, the Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs should take measures, for example, with regard to the arrival of Ukrainian labor. According to MTK, the Foreign Ministry's promise of 1,500 foreign seasonal workers is likely to remain a torso.

He emphasizes that this is not a competitive situation for foreign and domestic labor, but getting Ukrainian key personnel to Finland is important from the point of view of Finnish production and security of supply.

- These Ukrainians are experienced employees, and we do not get enough experienced key people, especially for large farms, for more demanding tasks, such as work management. It is possible to compare the space with the factory: if the employees of the entire factory had to be changed, then because of the functionality of the factory, it would be necessary to have someone who can complete their job without extensive familiarization, Marttila opens.

There were supposed to be four seasonal aircraft workers from Ukraine, but so far only one has arrived in the country.

According to Marttila, the lack of foreign key personnel also affects the fact that not all facilities have yet been able to recruit Finns effectively, even though there were many jobseekers due to the interest rate crisis.

- I believe that the employment of 10,000 Finns would not be a problem if the government makes decisions that support it.

During normal summers, it has been difficult to attract Finnish labor, but this summer Marttila believes that this may be different.

The list of eight items written by MTK mentions, among other things, a more flexible unemployment benefit as a decision in support of employment, where the salary of a seasonal worker would not have a reducing effect on the daily allowance for the first month. In addition, MTK would like to see the wage subsidy increased to 50 percent and it will be extended to include laid-off people, young people and students.

According to MTK, TE offices could direct those laid off to rural industries and attract workers from urban areas to the countryside with a fixed accommodation allowance of 20 euros per day.

According to Marttila, individual MPs have taken matters into their own hands, but the actual decisions would be needed quickly.

MTK is appalled that the government has not been able to make any decisions for a month to improve the employment of the domestic workforce.

- Every day causes financial losses. The industry and Finland's security of supply are also under threat. If the government is unable to make decisions, it will destroy the harvest of the coming season.

However, Marttila points out that these are especially berry and vegetable farms and not so much about dairy farms or cultivation.

It is still a large number of farms and a significant financial impact.

In particular, MTK demands responsibility for the Minister of Labor Tuula Haatainen (sd), who is also responsible for security of supply.

Photo: Sami Kero