• Sweden edition
Tougher rules to protect Sweden's berry pickers

Tougher rules to protect Sweden's berry pickers

Published: 08 Apr 2011 14:11 GMT+02:00
Updated: 08 Apr 2011 14:11 GMT+02:00

The Swedish Migration Board (Migrationsverket) has tightened regulations for hiring seasonal berry pickers ahead of the 2011 season.

The reason for the change is to improve working conditions and clarify the responsibilities of Swedish employers who seek the services of migrant labourers to help with the berry harvest.

“It is not acceptable that people come to Sweden for work and then become exploited. An individual´s right to reasonable conditions must prevail over any special interests,” Jonas Lindgren, Head of Division at The Swedish Migration Board said in a statement.

After several years of scandals involving guest workers imported to Sweden to pick berries in the north of the country the situation came to a head after a disastrous season in 2009, with many berry pickers heading home weighed down by debt instead of profits.

In 2010 the pickers were for the first time provided with contracts guaranteeing them a monthly wage of at least 16,372 kronor ($2,321).

But unions warned that the minimum salary was insufficient, pointing out that it in some cases it was hardly enough to cover the plane tickets, housing and car rental.

In 2010, many berry pickers again found themselves in quite a jam after harvests proved disappointing and the season was characterised by protests and scandals.

In August, Vietnamese guest workers staged two demonstrations against their working conditions and there were reports of ravenous berry pickers shooting wild fowl for food.

In October the press reported that 135 berry pickers had been forced to return to Thailand empty handed after the owners of their employer allegedly emptied the firm of cash and fled.

“The most important thing is that we together with other involved authorities and organizations do what we can so that last year´s situation will not be repeated,” said Lindgren.

New guidelines for the employers will mean that berry pickers can only be hired by a foreign company that has an affiliate in Sweden.

It is this Swedish affiliate company which will be held responsible for following the work conditions in the contracts.

Further, the company has to be able to prove that they can pay the berry pickers’ salaries even if the harvest is poor.

They must also show that they have informed the pickers both of what kind of job they will be carrying out and of the work conditions involved.

The Local/rm (news@thelocal.se)

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

15:54 April 8, 2011 by Jim__in_Vietnam
Bravo, Sweden! These foreign workers are poor country folk who have to deal with scammers and corrupt officials in their home countries. Let their work experience in the West demonstrate to them that there IS a better, more just way. When they return home they will be wiser, and demand fair treatment.
16:12 April 8, 2011 by Mzungu
Why ever would Sweden require"guest" workers at any rate, when a high percentage of Swedes are unemploye, drawing A Kassa?

*get them picking*
17:09 April 8, 2011 by uunbeliever
What kind of idiot living in Sweden would pay for any sort of berry in the summer? Here's a hint...they grow in the woods, and allmänsrätt protects your right to go get 'em!!!
17:14 April 8, 2011 by Tanskalainen
I need some dingleberries picked.
04:15 April 9, 2011 by Swedesmith
Don't hire Edward Scissorhands, then.
11:23 April 9, 2011 by calebian22
How about using those people drawing social assistance nstead of importing seasonal workers. If society is paying for them, they should give something back.
13:06 April 9, 2011 by salalah
The law will still be insufficient, since companies can circumvent this by having separate, secondary contracts with the pickers. Some pickers plan to come here just to be able to apply for asylum. In my opinion, this is a shady business, which should be banned. The employers should deposit the workers' salaries in escrow with the government, so that they cannot escape from paying. The workers are charged about SEK 4000 a head by these "Companies" for administrative fees (Read: Scammed). In their countries it is a whole year's salary. But for these companies which bring about 300 workers, it is a nice profit of about a million SEK which they get whether there are berries in the forest or not. Shame on these ruthless people!!!
11:46 April 10, 2011 by charubun pananon
There are also many beggars and poor people in Sweden. We should also push them to work for berrypicking.
14:57 April 10, 2011 by chemist007
@charubun pananon

good idea
19:50 April 10, 2011 by Nemesis
This is a perverted disgrace.

There is thousands unemployed in Sweden. There is no excuse for importing labour from outside the EU.

This is purely to exploit, nothing else.

Sweden needs a minimum wage now and it needs to be enforced by jail terms for employers breaking that law.
21:58 April 10, 2011 by Kina_observer
I want the summer picking job......where can i find the hiring information?
22:13 April 10, 2011 by salalah

Google "Shady companies in the Swedish forests". Be prepared to bring a tent and lots of canned food in case there are no berries; otherwise you will be charged for food and living quarters if you choose to stay in the buildings provided by the company, even if there are no berries!!!

There are 2 toilets per 70 people in those houses and you sleep on the floor!!!

Do not pay any company in China to bring you here!!!

It you want to come to Sweden, come here on vacation...at least you will have a nice time with your money!!!
Today's headlines
Sweden scraps 'new start zones' after EU input
Integration Minister Erik Ullenhag visits a school in Tensta, one of the neighbourhoods mentioned when he and his colleagues first floated the new start zone proposal. File: TT

Sweden scraps 'new start zones' after EU input

Sweden has abandoned a plan to ease taxes for small companies in blighted areas after the European Commission challenged its legality. READ () »

'Easter eggs an invitation to spread germs'
A typical Swedish Easter egg. Photo: Jessica Gow/TT

'Easter eggs an invitation to spread germs'

A Swedish microbiologist has warned that traditional Swedish Easter eggs laden with candy are an open invitation to the spread of bacteria and viruses. "Is this really a good idea?" he asked. READ () »

Jammed truck snarls Stockholm rush hour
Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT

Jammed truck snarls Stockholm rush hour

PICTURES: A truck got wedged inside a tunnel in central Stockholm on Thursday, with authorities concerned the accident may have damaged cables in the tunnel's ceiling. READ () »

Kids in Victorian garb mark Swedish Easter
A Swedish Easter witch holding daffodils. File photo: TT

Kids in Victorian garb mark Swedish Easter

In India, I'd notice Easter only from the traffic jam outside the churches, but here witches, egg hunts, and feathers mark the Christian holiday. The Local's Deepti Vashisht brings you the various shades of Swedish Easter. READ () »

Swedish MP ordered chemtrail probe
Chemtrails?: Shutterstock.

Swedish MP ordered chemtrail probe

A Swedish MP who launched an official government investigation into the existence of chemtrails tells The Local why he thinks Swedes deserve the truth, even if it may leave some conspiracy theorists unsatisfied. READ () »

PM pleads ignorance of Vattenfall's Nuon bid
Fredrik Reinfeldt answers the constitutional affairs committee's questions. Photo: TT

PM pleads ignorance of Vattenfall's Nuon bid

Sweden's prime minister on Thursday said Vattenfall itself, not its owners the Swedish state, had responsibility for the loss-making Nuon deal. READ () »

'Kockums submarine raid may be illegal': lawyer
Photo: TT

'Kockums submarine raid may be illegal': lawyer

A Swedish lawyer says the Swedish military may have broken the law when it raided the Malmö premises of German defence giant Thyssen Krupp. READ () »

Good weather could blight Easter traffic
Easter traffic two years ago on the E4 motorway. File: Jessica Gow/TT

Good weather could blight Easter traffic

Traffic experts have cautioned Swedes heading to the countryside for what should be a sunny Easter, warning that the most serious accidents often take place when the weather is clement. READ () »

Saab offers Gripen lease to Malaysia
Jas Gripen jets in flight. File photo: TT

Saab offers Gripen lease to Malaysia

Swedish defence giant Saab has offered to rent out fighter jets to Malaysia. READ () »

What's On in Sweden

What's On in Sweden

Check out what's happening with The Local's guide to the main attractions and events in Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö - in association with DoToday. READ () »

Swedish supermarket Ica pulls contested Easter commercial off air
Swedish royals set baptism date for princess
People-watching April 16
Who's the prime minister's heir?
Alfie Atkins
Are children's books the key to families integrating in Sweden?
'Sweden Dem protests cater to party's martyr image'
'Swedish research grants were fantastic, but now it's like Australia'
Only in Sweden: The ten problems you'd never encounter elsewhere
Swedes stopped to take my picture, but didn't look me in the eyes
Business & Money
A swipe of the hand replaced cash and cards in Lund
Video: Oliver Gee finds out how to embrace The Swedish Hug
Abba duo hints at reunion
Flash mobs hug it out across Sweden
People-watching April 11-13
Swedes to give six-hour workday a go
Aussie choir member wows Abba in Sweden
Stockholm magic a surprise YouTube hit
Gallery: The Local's Property of the Week
Swedes find 200-year-old gravestone in living room
Stockholm School of Economics
Sponsored Article
Why a bachelor's degree is no longer enough
Deepti Vashisht
Deepti Vashisht dissects the magic of Sweden's personal ID number
Ten signs you've been in Sweden too long
Jimi Fritze heard every word when doctors discussed taking his organs
A Swedish farmer explains why the new bestiality ban is 'pointless'
Sponsored Article
Learning Swedish the easy way
Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Blog Update: The Diplomatic Dispatch

28 October 15:16

The Green Growth Group Summit »

"Today on the 28 October in Brussels, a large group of key EU Ministers and business people, including UK Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Edward Davey, and Swedish Environment Minister Lena Ek, will meet to discuss green growth. They all have a stake in resolving a challenge which, although it is crucial..." READ »

jobs available
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions is an innovative business company which provides valuable assistance with the Swedish Authorities, Swedish language practice and general communications. Call 073-100 47 81 or visit: