Ridiculous, gross, inhumane and untrue.
With these adjectives, former office workers of Jokerit, who worked for the Helsinki club during the KHL period, describe their treatment under Team Jokerit Oy, led by Joel Harkimo, but which went bankrupt.
Since last fall, they have lived in a state of complete uncertainty, without any certainty about the future, and in the end they have a wet rag on their face.
The Joker’s former office worker, who remains anonymous, now wants to share his shocking story.
He feels that he was treated horribly first under Team Jokerit Oy and then in JackyXolitto’s decision making.
The nightmare for Jokri’s office staff began last June, when Jari Kurri-owned Jokerit Hockey Club Oy, which was running Jokri’s operations at the time, laid off its staff for three months.
At the time, Jokerit had left the KHL season midway through and tried to make a quick comeback in the SM League. However, the future was uncertain.
– I don’t know how many people were affected by the layoffs at the time, but my guess is it was about twenty, says a former Jokeri employee.
– It must be said that at that time things were handled very realistically, says the employee.
Things completely changed in late August.
The employees of Jokri gather for a meeting in Jokri’s office. You can also participate in the event remotely through Teams.
At the meeting, the Jokerit staff learn that they moved from Jokerit Hockey Club Oya, led by Kurri, to the mysterious team Jokerit Oya in a business deal.
Leif Ittenen, a lawyer handling the affairs of Team Jokerit Oy, informed about the matter.
Otherwise, the new Joker Company remained virtually faceless.
– We were only told that Jorma Mäkinen, a junior club board member, is on the board of Team Jokerit Oy. Nothing else was said. It felt really weird, says the former employee.
Today, of course, it is known that Joel Harkimo was behind everything. The company he owns bought the Joker’s business from Kur, but the employees were not told anything about the new owner at the meeting.
– The lawyer on behalf of Team Jokerit Oy has just issued a new layoff notice. We were “on the job” for eight days, as information about layoffs should be given a few weeks in advance. So we got eight days’ pay, the former employee recalls.
During the meeting, Jokerit employees tried to ask lawyer Ittenen for more information about Team Jokerit Oy, but received no response.
Despite this, Joker’s employees were required to sign a non-disclosure agreement.
– We signed it, even though we knew nothing about it.
This time the retrenchment of employees was not temporary but valid for an indefinite period.
The Joker staff were left waiting for more information – in vain. The employees were in a state of confusion. They did not know whose company they worked for or who their supervisor was.
There was no time even to peep from the owner’s side, there was not even the slightest trace of smoke. For example, I didn’t know who I should tell if I wanted to quit. Or if I wanted to transfer my phone subscription from the company to myself, so I didn’t know who to contact, the employee wonders.
Reporters quickly discovered Joel Harkimo’s name. Although Harkimo’s role behind the clowns began to be a public secret, according to the staff, he did not make any contact with them.
– He would also send a message on Christmas, where he would tell that he is the owner of the company and wish him a Merry Christmas. And said that things will be announced later. But now it was mental thrashing of the employees. Can this happen too? the former employee wonders.
– I experienced it as a really inferior and humiliating activity. Mentally, it was a difficult time, as uncertainty is the worst state for the human mind. The fact that he laid us off to save the company money so he didn’t have to pay notice period pay was a ridiculous game, one employee uploads.
Joel Harkimo told IS that he did not want to comment on what the staff said.
According to the staff, complete silence remained between Team Jokerit Oy and the staff until the end of the Harkimo project, even though Jokerit’s vicissitudes were often reported in the newspapers.
In the newspapers, the staff could also read that Harkimo had presented his comeback ideas to fan groups.
– It’s too bad that the fans were told, but nothing for us employees.
When Harkimo first contacted the employees interviewed by IS, the message was expected but disappointing.
I experienced it as a really inferior and humiliating activity. Mentally, it was a difficult time, as uncertainty is the worst state for the human mind.
On 20 April, a message appeared in employees’ e-mail, in which Harkimo stated that he had filed for bankruptcy against Team Jokerit Oy and apologized for the situation.
IS has seen the message. That same day, Harkimo publicly announced the bankruptcy filing on Twitter.
It was known and a common laughing stock, say former employees, that he would bankrupt the company shortly after the election.
– The bankruptcy resulted in our receivables remaining in the bankruptcy estate. I again realized that we were thought of only as an expenditure item. The former employee says it’s your business to apply for money from bankruptcy assets or salary protection or whatever.
In the event of bankruptcy, Jokri employees can apply for compensation from Wage Protection. The maximum amount of claims that can be paid as wage protection based on work performed for a single employer is 19,000 Euros.
According to one employee, the main culprit for the whole mess is the Jokerit Junior Club, Jokerit Rai.
Jokerit Rai has made the most stupid decisions which has led to this situation. It’s a major blessing that they chose Joel Harkimo’s company to lead the project. If I were active in Jockery, I would demand the immediate sacking of the board. He has caused a huge mess for the entire Joker’s Club.
Jokerit is now under a new support group led by Mikko Sarni. Since the new Jokerit company Jokerit Helsinki Oy did not do business with Team Jokerit Oy, the claims of Team Jokerit Oy’s employees remained in the bankruptcy estate.
Immediately following the news of Team Jokerit OA’s bankruptcy, the blood of former Jokerit employees boils again.
Overall, they could not digest the fact that Jakikolitto required Sarni’s new Jokerz group to pay large compensations for the KHL coaching contracts signed by Jari Kurri.
If I were active in Jockery, I would demand the immediate sacking of the board. He has caused a huge mess for the entire Joker’s Club.
According to information from IS, Antti Pennan, Tony Varta, Pekka Kangsalas and Markus Ketterer receive demolition compensation from Joker’s new background group. The total amount is approximately 125,000 Euros.
Former Jokerz employees wonder why Jacciolitto, in his decision, put coaches and office personnel in an unequal position and also required compensation for people who work in the office.
– It came as a big surprise that the Ice Hockey Association demands money to be paid to the coaches. Many of my acquaintances have asked me why we are not treated like coaches. I myself think about it, says the former employee.
– Sure some explanation can be found, but it’s probably a technical explanation. This seems odd, especially against Harry Numela’s statements.
The former employee of Jokers refers to the statement of Numela, president of Jackiclitto, in which he justified the payment obligation of the new Jokers group with fairness and equal treatment.
– In our opinion, even this (Jokers’) individual case should be reflected in the rules that other operators are required to follow, Numela first justified the Jokers’ payment demand.
From the employee’s point of view, at least among the trainers and office staff, justice and equality were not realised.
Chairman Numela and the ice hockey league’s competition manager Pirkka Antilla responded to criticism from former Jokerz employees by appealing to the ice hockey league’s competition rules and social responsibility.
They say that after the bankruptcy, a new operator applying for a place in the series will have to clear salary arrears of players and coaches before a license can be granted.
Nothing is mentioned about the office staff.
The Ice Hockey Federation says it followed bankruptcy rules in the Jokers’ case, even though the situation for the Helsinki club, which returned from the KHL, was entirely extraordinary.
According to Antilla and Numela, the rule article created nearly twenty years ago is based on the assumption that clubs do not pay unemployment insurance premiums for the fees of most of their players or coaches, as they are not usually in full-time employment. ,
On the other hand, unemployment insurance premium, Finance Palkkaturva.
– Since we do not participate in the financing of Palkturva in this regard, it is not responsible that the arrears of salaries of players and coaches are reimbursed from the society’s money. The game itself will have to take care of them, says Harry Numela.
– Of course, there are differences in the contractual relationship between coaches and players. But according to the most general situation there should be some main rules.
However, in the Jokers’ case, it is hardly a matter of the fact that top coaches are not full-time, employed employees and therefore unemployment insurance premiums should not have been paid from their salaries.
So isn’t it that the ice hockey federation has put the coaches and other staff in an unequal position?
– At one time, we chose these certain obligations, which are due. We decided that this is the kind of thing we do for people who base their living around games. These are not easy things, says Antila, and a line has to be drawn somewhere.
An important question is whether it will be necessary for the Ice Hockey Federation to update its competition rules to better reflect modern times, so that playing and office staff of clubs are on a more equal footing.
– We re-evaluate the competition rules every year, the last time we did so was at the end of 2022.
– Fortunately, club bankruptcy happens very rarely, not even every year, and the cases are often quite isolated. Possible changes require careful consideration, and devising individual rules that work in all circumstances is not easy or even possible. No matter what the rules are in their description, their application in future will also require consideration and evaluation of individual cases.
Jokers employees are not satisfied with the Ice Hockey Association’s answers.
– I think there should be some ethics in the Ice Hockey Federation too? It was a precedent, says a former Jokeri employee.
– For many families, this is one big drama in life. Of course, I also understand those people who now say why did you go to work at Jokers. He has a right to it. But I can honestly say that I thought I was working. Of course, I would choose another option now, says one of the employees.