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Help comes to Finland from Estonia

Juhan Tere, BC, Tallinn, 23.09.2011.Print version
Many Estonians do not manage with either joblessness or low wages at their homeland, and flee to work in Finland, Helsinki region has been especially popular, Helsingin Sanomat writes in a Friday edition. Estonians are not easy to pick out in a crowd in Finland, and many of them speak excellent Finnish, as the article says.


At construction sites, in buses, and in cleaning firms there are significant numbers of Estonians: and in hospitals as well. With increasing frequency Estonians can be seen driving taxis, or working in restaurants and shops. Highly educated Estonians have also applied for positions in Finland requiring expertise.


Helsingin Sanomat mentions a lady – Maia Lillepöld – the 60-year-old nurse, who works three or four weeks in Finland and then goes to Estonia for a week. She feels no comfort during her out-of-work days in Finland, because she would rather spend them in Estonia, writes LETA.

In 2004 Maia Lillepöld worked as the director of a dairy in Kuressaare, after loosing her job in 2004, she acquired new profession and moved to Finland. Lillepöld plans to work in Finland for four more years, when she plans to retire and move back to Saaremaa.


There are no precise statistics on Estonians working in Finland. Some people live in Finland on a more or less temporary basis; however, in some sectors, for example, construction many laborers come to work from Tallinn every week and get pay from an Estonian company.


Construction worker Raimo Aas, aged 22, moved to Finland three years ago when his Estonian boss failed to pay wages.


"At first there were language problems, but now things are going well. I talk to Finns a lot, and that is how I learn," Aas lives in Oulunkylä in Helsinki, and plans to stay in the country permanently.


From the beginning of this year the Estonians have been the largest group of foreigners living in Finland on a permanent basis. According to the Population Register Center, there were 29,080 Estonians living in Finland on a permanent basis – slightly more than the number of Russians. The number has more than doubled since 2004, and in recent years the trend has accelerated.


According to the article, Estonians find it easy to acclimatize themselves in Finland because they quickly learn the language, work hard and with diligence, and feel fine doing job which is not quite popular among local inhabitants.


"People in Finland have treated us well. I have never experienced xenophobia. Sometimes they forget that I’m not a Finn", says Mari Palgi, a researcher in molecular biology who moved to Finland in 1990.

On the contrary, construction worker Raimo Aas sometimes hears xenophobic comments from drunks.

Helsingin Sanomat points out that, although inflow of Estonian workforce has eliminated the problem of the labor shortage at building sites, illegal employment in construction sector still causes headache.

The Helsinki region especially has grown to be somewhat dependent on Estonian labor.

"Probably it [Helsinki] would not function. Things might not actually grind to a halt, but there would be difficulties in certain fields", says Timo Cantell, head of research at the City of Helsinki Urban Facts center.

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