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The spread of the coronavirus at construction sites is a concern for the Finnish Construction Trade Union. (Roni Rekomaa – Lehtikuva)

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THE REQUIREMENT that construction workers observe a two-week quarantine after entering the country or being exposed to the new coronavirus has proven a dead letter, along with many other measures to limit the spread of the virus in the industry, warns the Finnish Construction Trade Union.

The union stated yesterday that it is “extremely worried” about the coronavirus situation at construction sites.

“Coronavirus exposures and infections have taken place in several localities, especially among foreign workers on secondments. Overall, hundreds of workers have been affected by the incidents,” it highlighted in a press release.

“Because workers are typically not paid wages for the self-monitored quarantine, people arriving from poor countries are not in a position to observe the quarantine. For the same reason, people even go to work sick.”

The Construction Trade Union said it has demanded for months that authorities take concrete action to address the problem. “[The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare] THL on 30 June issued its recommendation for measures to fight the coronavirus at construction sites. Hardly any of its recommendations have been realised in practice.”

The main shortcomings, it listed, are linked to the hygiene of social facilities at construction sites and the living conditions and non-compliance with quarantine recommendations of foreign workers on secondments in Finland.

“Even at the main construction sites of the largest construction companies in the country, there has been indifference for the hygiene of social facilities. For every site that is taking care of the issue properly, there are two with glaring shortcomings,” the union argued.

The fact that workers on secondments are usually housed in shared accommodation, it added, means the whole group should be placed in quarantine if one gets sick. This has not been the case, however, as the issue has been “left on the shoulders of workers who are at the mercy of their employers”.

The Construction Trade Union is demanding that the cleaning of social facilities be improved and the hygiene of the facilities monitored.

Workers arriving from abroad should be ordered into two-week quarantine with pay that can only be terminated ahead of schedule on grounds of a negative coronavirus test received in Finland. Their housing arrangements, meanwhile, should be re-thought to make sure no two workers share a room and ensure safety also during the pandemic.

Authorities should additionally increase monitoring at both construction sites and the housing facilities of foreign workers.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Source: Uusi Suomi

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