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Cablegate: Finland: Dol Assistant Secretary for Policy

VZCZCXRO0976
RR RUEHAG RUEHDF RUEHIK RUEHLZ RUEHROV
DE RUEHHE #0149 0930959
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 020959Z APR 08
FM AMEMBASSY HELSINKI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4208
RUEHC/DEPT OF LABOR WASHINGTON DC
INFO RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS HELSINKI 000149

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ELAB SMIG SOCI ECON FI
SUBJECT: Finland: DOL Assistant Secretary for Policy
Leon R. Sequeira Visits


1. Department of Labor Assistant Secretary for Policy
Leon R. Sequeira participated in a panel at the Nordic-
American Dialogue at Hanasaari, a trans-Atlantic forum
organized by the Swedish-Finnish Cultural Center in
Helsinki Finland on March 3. On March 4, Sequeira
discussed aging population issues with Professor Juhani
Ilmarinen, the Director of Life Course and Work Theme
at the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health. He
also discussed labor migration issues with Director-
General Pentti Visanen of the Migration Department at
the Finnish Ministry of the Interior.

2. Ilimarinen emphasized the need to keep the Finnish
and European populations at work longer, noting that
workers, employers, and society as a whole all play a
role in this effort. Finnish retirement policy now
provides a 4.5% per year additional incentive benefit
to a worker postponing retirement after age 63 up to
age 65. The number of older workers who take advantage
of the incentives and remain in the work force is lower
that in the US, but rising, Ilmarinen said. The
Finnish Institute of Occupational Health has produced a
survey that measures "Work Ability" and, using 7
questions, highlights changes necessary to keep any age
worker productive. Ilmarinen requested more contact
with potential survey users in the US in an effort to
collect US workplace data.

3. Visanen discussed his ministry's attempts to attract
foreign workers in order to fill gaps in key labor
sectors in Finland. The GoF is seeking government-to-
government memoranda of understanding (MOU) with
countries from which workers have a history of
emigrating to seek overseas employment. Finland's goal
is to directly enlist the help of those governments in
identifying qualified workers willing to travel to
Finland and in eliminating any potential abuse on the
"source country" end.

4. Visanen identified Ukraine, China, and Viet Nam as
countries with which Finland has initiated such
discussions. Traditionally Finland has depended on
migrant workers from neighboring countries such as
Sweden, Germany, Russia and the Baltic states.
However, Visanen pointed out, the labor shortages
associated with an aging population that those
countries face -- especially Russia -- are more serious
than Finland's. Finnish trade unions initially opposed
programs designed to attract migrants to Finland, he
added, but now have become more cooperative and have
begun working with the GoF, for example to help
establish policies to prevent erosion of prevailing
wages for Finnish workers.

5. A/S Leon R. Sequeira has cleared this cable.


HYATT

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