Some 550 people have called the hotline that counsels young people working in summer jobs. The service is run by the three trade union confederations Akava, SAK and STTK.
Most of the questions concerned salaries, working hours, unpaid salaries and termination of employment before the agreed time. ”One fifth of those calling mentioned that they were working without a written contract”, says Sini Siikström who ran the service this summer.
”An even bigger share had a zero hour contract. In such cases the obligatory working hours list were often late in coming and shifts were cancelled on too short notice which is against the law and the collective agreement.”
When young people find themselves in a zero hour contract situation and receiving few hours work they are afraid to complain or take the issue up with the employer for fear of being left with no hours at all.
”Problems often accumulate and ultimately the roots of these problems can be traced to when the employment contract was made. So when a young person calls about a particular problem, other problems often became apparent.”
In such cases the young employee has had another understanding of the work in a job interview or did not understand the meaning of working conditions when signing the contract. ”Central issues like salary or working hours might not have been agreed on at all.”
Siikström cannot say for sure if the employer did know about the legislation and collective agreements or whether he tried to shift the employers’ risk to the employee.
The summer job helpline is well known among young people. Even the smaller employers avail of it to get advice. It has now been working for ten summers and the number of calls has been growing steadily.
The hotline will open again in May 2015 and will continue until the end of August of the same year. The service is available in Finnish, Swedish and English.
Helsinki (02.10.2014 – Heikki Jokinen)