The Government Programme of Finland’s right-wing government is a barter-like arrangement between the two major Government parties, the National Coalition Party and the Finns Party.
The Coalition Party got major changes favouring employers in the labour laws, like limiting the right to strike, and radical cuts in welfare. The Finns Party got a long list of changes to make life more difficult for foreign people living in Finland.
Proposals for such new legislation have not been formulated yet. However, the Government Programme lists several pages of measures that would negatively affect foreign born people living in Finland or planning to move here.
One startling change is that those holding work-based residence permits must find a new job within three months if the previous job ends. If not, he or she must leave the country, even after living and working in Finland for a long time. Employers must notify the authorities of a termination of employment of people with work-based residence permits. If not, they will be penalised.
In the future, to obtain a residence permit an employed person must earn the minimum defined in the sector’s collective agreement, but at least 1,600 euro gross income a month.
For naturalisation, the required time to live in Finland is to be extended to six years.
For a permanent residence permit, one must have lived six years in Finland. That has to include two years work without a prolonged period of unemployment benefit or social assistance. Also, there will be a language test in Finnish or Swedish.
With an income of more than 40 000 euro a year or academic degree it is possible to get the residence permit after four years in Finland.
For naturalisation, the required time to live in Finland is to be extended to six years. There will be a quiz-like citizenship test and a language test.
The government also plans to separate immigrants’ social security from that of Finns. Read: to cut social security for immigrants. This idea might still run into constitutional problems and fail. Those illegally in the country will have no right to health care, except in cases of emergency.
Strange three-months rule
The Orpo-Purra Government plan to expel those with work-based residence permits who are out of work for three months comes in for a lot of criticism. Not only from trade unions, but also from employers and the public sector.
This is right, as the rule would be not only cruel but also stupid. In many cases, we are speaking of people who have been here for a long time and do work that is very much in demand.
When a job suddenly comes to an end, three months is quite a short time to find a new job. The employment process with applications, interviews and decision-making easily takes that long. At the same time, many companies and public services complain of a shortage of labour.
Moreover, the Government Programme also wants to introduce a target country model for labour migration. These are India, the Philippines, Brazil and Vietnam. However, their citizens do have other alternatives than far-away Finland, too. What this would mean in practice, remains to be seen.
The Industrial Union is, as always, supporting workers rights and all members regardless of their origin. This work takes place every day from shopfloor to political decision-making.