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'Unstable' firms bringing workers to Sweden

Published: 15 Apr 2011 16:16 GMT+02:00
Updated: 15 Apr 2011 16:16 GMT+02:00

Many of the companies approved to bring foreign workers to Sweden every year have little or no turnover or go bankrupt shortly after the labour migrants arrive, according to a new report.

In addition, dozens of the companies who seek permission from the Swedish Migration Board (Migrationsverket) to import foreign workers do so using very shaky grounds, an investigative report by the LO-Tidningen newspaper reveals.

The newspaper, which is affiliated with Sweden's largest union group, reviewed many of the companies behind the roughly 15,000 work permits issued to foreign labourers by migration authorities between December 2008 and December 2009.

Their investigation revealed that roughly 100 companies offer employment deemed to be "very uncertain" for foreign workers, excluding companies focused on berry harvesting and processing.

Many of the companies reviewed by the newspaper reported having little or no turnover, and several reported having no employees, according to documents submitted to the Swedish Companies Registration Office (Bolagsverket).

One Malmö-based company examined by LO-Tidningen was founded in 2008 and reportedly involved in the book printing business, as well as the sales of household goods.

While the company reported no turnover in its first six months, migration authorities granted a 2-year work permit to man from Turkey to come to Sweden to work for the company.

Shortly thereafter, however, the company was forcibly liquidated by the Swedish Companies Registration Office after failing to submit a mandatory annual report to the agency and the current whereabouts of the company's Turkish employee remain unknown.

The Migration Board claims that it lacks a mandate to perform thorough checks on the companies that submit applications to bring foreign workers to Sweden.

"The law doesn't give us the space to say no simply because the company is new," Alejandro Firpo, head of the Migration Board's division for labour migration, told the LO-Tidningen, adding that the agency isn't charged with keeping tabs on whether or not a company goes bankrupt.

"If a foreigner has an employment offer and fulfills other requirements – like having a valid passport, for example, not showing up in any crime registers and having a job offer in line with Swedish collective wage agreements – we're going to approve it."

In 2008, Sweden updated its labour migration laws, giving companies more leeway in determining whether or not they needed to recruit workers from abroad.

Previously, the Swedish Public Employment Service (Arbetsförmedlingen) made such determinations, which were then used by migration authorities as grounds for issuing work permits.

According to the law, the terms of employment must be equal to or better than those set out in Swedish collective bargaining agreements or what passes for standard practice in a particular industry.

But unions and Swedish border authorities have long expressed concerns that unscrupulous companies abuse the new rules and exploit foreign workers by threatening to withdraw their work permits if they don't agree to work long hours under adverse conditions.

Speaking with the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper in November, Ingemo Melin Olsson of the Stockholm border police argued that labour migration is the next major area of trafficking.

Shortly thereafter, Sweden's migration minister Tobias Billström acknowledged that problems do exist, but nevertheless defended the new laws.

"Abusive employers have always existed and always will exist. It has nothing to do with the labour laws," he said at the time.

The Local/dl (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

18:03 April 15, 2011 by eddie123
well then, don't permit unstable firms to bring workers to Sweden. to the best of my knowledge, the work permit scheme goes through a series of checks with the migration board and the unions. therefore, one or both should be in a position to tell if a firm is suitable to employ people from abroad. this is as simple to do as running a check with the tax office to ascertain the profitability of the firm.
18:20 April 15, 2011 by Great Scott
My question is, why are they being allowed to bring in people, when Sweden has such a high rate of unemployment.
18:53 April 15, 2011 by uunbeliever
Because many Swedes don't want to work. I clean an ICA on the weekends to supplement my income while going to school. Do you know how many of my university friends want to apply, none. Even though they are looking for summer work. Immigrants and migrant workers do the jobs the Swedes won't do. Stop whining and get to work.
19:28 April 16, 2011 by mkvgtired
@uunbeliever, good for you. You will have a much better work ethic when you are done. I know a lot of people, even those getting advanced technical degrees, that had menial jobs while getting their degrees (my cousin was a mover while he studied mechanical engineering). I worked the entire time I was working on my undergraduate, and am looking for a job while I work on my law degree. You really learn how to squeeze every second out of each day, almost to the point where when you only work you get bored. Kind of a digression from the topic but important nonetheless.

On topic, has anyone considered these are sham companies just trying to get people into Sweden?
14:16 April 17, 2011 by DavidtheNorseman
@mkvgtired - probably both. There will be some who are trying to get their friends/relatives into Sweden using this scheme and some who are just using the poor sots for slave labour then going "bankrupt" as part of their regular business plan. Good on the unions and the border police.

My question is what happens to the fellows who are brought in? If they are disappearing into the mist then you might be looking at criminal/terrorist problems, but if they are just hung out to dry and then have to be shipped home (probably without being paid) at State cost then it is definitely a governmental concern.

Maybe the answer is a 3 year bond covering costs of repatriation if there is business failure in those years (or a bond for over the summer until they're sent home for annual agricultural workers). Mandatory knowledge of where the employee is ought to be a legal requirement, too, perhaps for the same period.

Otherwise you might find hordes of American berry-pickers hiding out in Sweden hoping to get on the dole and free health care :-)
22:47 April 17, 2011 by jomamas
I was displaced by immigrants in my native town of Mississauga, Canada. From the time I was born until about the age of 30, the city went from mostly Candian, to large majority of foreign born population. Cultural elements were stripped from schools and government in the spirit of 'fairness' - but as a result, there is no culture left. Visit Mississauga - you will find big box stores, nameless, faceless people that look at the ground, tons of quick-build identical looking homes. No newspaper, a building with the words 'community center' that is not a community center, no artisanship, no pride no sense of identity.

Canada - and I'm sure Sweden - will do a good job of ecnomically integrating newcomers, and because they will mostly speak Swedish, and mostly have jobs and healthcare and safety - you will consider it a 'success'. However - it will not be. Your own culture will erode bit by bit, year by year in the face of constant acquiescing of politically uncomfortable issues. It starts with the banning of Christmas carols sung in public places, but it ends with a culture that you - having grown up in Sweden - will totally fail to recognize as Swedish.

You might say that 'Swedish values' transcend culture, but this is naive idealism. Every country can claim the liberal values that pro-immigrant Swedes endeavor to claim as their own. The Western world will have no culture in 50 years, it will be a big melting pot.

Swedes, out of the great kindness of their hearts, and the virtue of their character want to help others - and from an economic perspective, it makes sense to have immigrants - but the hidden cultural costs will be dramatic - they will nullify Sweden itself.

It makes more sense to 'export' Swedish values, than to import those without. If Swedes really want to help - it makes much more sense to help Libyans, Tunisians and Somalis stand up on their own feet with pride in their own culture, and their own nation.

Do you think that people really want to leave their homelands to go to Sweden? Nobody wants to leave their homes - they do so because they have to.

There is much work that needs to be done in the developing world - and we must help them. Of course Sweden can have some level of immigration - but it would be better overall if there were not many. and in fact, if most of them were able to take the lessons that they learned in Sweden, and some money that they earned - home. After all - does the Western world really want to strip the developing world of their most talented people?

I speak to you from the perspective of experience. I watched my home dissapear. I have no home to go back to as I don't recognize anyone from my neighbourhodd, they speak different languages, eat different food, have different values, see the world a different way. They are beautiful people - but they are not my people.

Don't let this happen to Sweden. What would the world be like if Sweden dissapeared?
08:56 April 18, 2011 by karex
Beutifully put Jomamas.
11:15 April 18, 2011 by justiceforall
The government may consider the following tips:

1, The comapny inviting the guest worker (GW) must be minimum 2 years old (it means that the company actively passed 2 annual tax return period). And must have a turnover of certain volume ( may be for ex, 300,000:- SEK /Year). In case of new company, they sould satisfy their investment and infrastructures volume (for a new company may be more than a million SEK).

2, LO should check the company if it really exists, or really operating business or not before registering them or before giving opinion to the offer letters.

3, GW should first enter sweden (not other EU entry) and give a fingerprint so that their movement can be tracked if necessary in the future. They should give a medical checkup too.

4, If a company's 50% or more GW get dismissed or disappear, then the comapny should get a penalty of a certain amount. or may restrict NOT to issue any more WP.

4, The GW also sometime act differently, when they are here, come to know many goody facilities, and they changes, they act differently than before coming here, they assume that they entered sweden got work and done with the EU settlement and done OK with Swedish Citizenship m.m. So on these points, the employer should also hold the right to dismiss the GW gently.
22:22 April 18, 2011 by Just_Kidding
Any law that leaves itself open to abuse, will be abused.

when Ikea's owner register's his company in Netherlands to save pengar, we should also expect people from around the globe to found fake or unstable businesses just to bring their relatives to Sweden, hoping that it would improve their quality of life (in many cases it does, and the cost is paid by Swedish taxpayer and those honest people who want to immigrate legally and end up in a long kö).

Law could easily changed to allow only companies with established business, some minimum number of full time employees (say at least 10), and a minimum years of profitable operation to bring people in.

In Canada, Quebec was used to give easy immigration to anybody who claimed to know French. Many immigrated to Quebec, and then left it to work in Ontario or BC. These provinces ended up having people, while there was no capacity to provide them with Jobs, ...etc. (Note that 10% of Canadians work outside of Canada). New immigrants under the heavy competition had to choose between unemployment, underemployment, or abusive charlatans.

Atheist Iranian
10:05 April 19, 2011 by justiceforall
The topic is ''Many of the companies approved to bring foreign workers to Sweden every year have little or no turnover or go bankrupt shortly after the labour migrants arrive, according to a new report.''

we can say also like this....

''many of the immigrants or newly arrieved immigrants approved to be settle here in sweden due to spouse or partnership or family ties every year have the tendency of, 95% of them, getting married and bring their wife/ partner just after devorcing the current one that they had here in sweden due to get the residence permit.''
10:16 April 19, 2011 by justiceforall
I think the case is serious in the family ties than the labour migrant. We can say like this''Unstable persons in sweden bringing around 50000 immigrants each year as their spouse or partner (as they show in the papers, but really NOT in 95% cacse), and just after they get permanent RP or Citizenship they get divorced and the newly arrieved then get the real one from home countries.'' In this process the Swedish economy get huge burden to pay their social security, but labour migrants are not entitle to receive any thing until they get PR which is 4 years minimum. And in a 4 years time the family ties persons get passport already. So please think which is burden.
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