Sunday. 05.02.2023

Closing Estonian border may leave construction sector without workers

Construction laborers generally come from the Tallinn area and have been commuting daily or weekly. Without them, many projects in Finland could be delayed.

Work construction building worker by Michal Jarmoluk from Pixabay

Commuter traffic between Finland and Estonia will stop on Sunday to prevent the spread of coronavirus (koronavirus, in Finnish). And the border restrictions are expected to be in force at least for a month.

This could create big problems for the construction sector, because lots of laborers who work in the ongoing projects, especially in the southern part of Finland, come from Estonia.

On Friday, Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin said at a government briefing, "In a situation like this, it is not possible to be traveling back and forth, possibly carrying infections and infecting other people."

However, Interior Minister Maria Ohisalo wished those Estonian workers who had an apartment in Finland would decide to stay in the country. “Estonian workers in Finland are very important resources for Finnish society. We hope that all Estonian workers will stay here,” she added.

In the whole construction industry, labor supply is expected to be hampered.

Business in danger

Aleksi Randell, Managing Director of Confederation of Construction Industry said to Ilta Sanomat, “Of course, this has a big impact. If the significant workforce leaves the country, business continuity will be in danger.”

Jake Aalto, President and CEO of Aalto Human Resources said to Helsingin Sanomat, “Construction companies, as well as clients, are concerned about keeping schedules.”

According to Randell, in general the construction industry workers come from Tallinn. They have been commuting daily or at least weekly.

The share of foreign labor at the construction sites in the Helsinki metropolitan area and the rest of Finland has been around one third. Randell added, "It's very difficult to fully replace them with any other workforce."

Closing Estonian border may leave construction sector without workers