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Fewer foreign berry pickers in Sweden

Fewer foreign berry pickers in Sweden

Published: 13 Aug 2011 11:24 GMT+02:00
Updated: 13 Aug 2011 11:24 GMT+02:00

This year has seen a significant drop in the number of berry pickers coming to Sweden from countries outside the EU, since requirements and regulations have been sharpened for companies employing foreign berry pickers.

Following several years of scandals, shocking headlines about exploited pickers have been few this year.

Last year roughly 4,400 people were given work permits to work within agriculture, gardening, foresting and fishing. The vast majority of these are berry pickers.

This year, the corresponding figure is roughly 2,400 people.

"It's not unlikely that our rules have caused those who previously brought people here and then used foul play have simply chosen not to apply this year," said Alejandro Firpo, division manager at the Swedish Migration Board (Migrationsverket), to news agency TT.

"We've spoken to some of the people who've come here, and they feel a certain security that they're getting paid. That must be the least one can demand of a company," said Firpo to newspaper Svenska Dagbladet.

Over the past couple of years, thousands of berry pickers have been tricked into coming to Sweden from countries such as Vietnam, China and Bangladesh, having been promised work and lots of money.

Many sold all their possessions to come here and make their fortune, only to discover upon arrival that no money would be coming their way as it was impossible to meet the contracted requirement of berries - up to 60 kilos of berries per day.

Pickers were stranded without salaries, with no help to be found from the misbehaving companies, nor from authorities such as the Migration Board.

"Lots of mistakes were made. We received a good deal of criticism, some of it was justified," said Firpo to Svenska Dagbladet.

This year, stricter demands have been implemented on berry picking companies. These include that employers must guarantee wages, and have a business registered in Sweden or another EU country.

"We've provided actors on the labour market with tools to ensure that wages are paid. If there's trouble, we can point out the responsible employer in Europe, or the registered branch that must exist here otherwise," explained Firpo to TT.

Thus far, in 2011 reports of unpaid wages and tricked berry pickers have been few, but there are exceptions. According to local media, some 20 Bulgarian pickers were stranded in Hälsingland, in northern Sweden, without being paid by their employer.

TT/Clara Guibourg (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

16:02 August 13, 2011 by jacquelinee
thats terrible! Now the swedes will have to pick their own berries and that requires so much actual work!
16:07 August 13, 2011 by JulieLou40
Why is the article repeating itself? Did one of the chimps type it twice by mistake?
16:38 August 13, 2011 by Iraniboy
Good for all! Bad for those oppurtunist employers who abused the situation last year!
16:41 August 13, 2011 by Boar
It's your partner who typed it twice. Are you both chimps by the way?
20:59 August 13, 2011 by lovedealer76
The article has just been copied from the Swedish Migration board website and mistakenly paste on here twice,i think the person who paste it was probably w@nkin while pasting
22:20 August 13, 2011 by darrenj
Good now we can just exploit them on their home turf where they at least have a chance... unlike exploiting them here, in Sweden, where they could freeze or worse, force to eat lutfisk!!!
23:09 August 13, 2011 by conboy
I think the Sweden Democrats should pick the berries! It would be the patriotic thing to do!
23:51 August 13, 2011 by Smokebox
That's a good thing. If the swedes can't do it let the berries rot.
00:58 August 14, 2011 by matona1
why importing more people to do the job while alots of refugee are here begging for working permit to work and the migration sverket refuse to give it out and continue to pay them with our tax deduction monthly,give them the permit to work if they want work and let them pay tax also.

many of them are willing to work.
09:03 August 14, 2011 by J. L. Belmar
00:58 August 14, 2011 by matona1

you are right. There are hundreds if not thousands of refugees in Sweden without a job, living with the subsidies they get from the government with your taxes, my taxes and everybodies taxes. Swedes will never pick their own berries, as Jacquelinéee ironically pointed out. Never on Sunday. It would be far too much for them. What they are good at is to lure poor people from other countries with false promises. This is the whole point of this story which has turned out to be the never ending story.
11:47 August 14, 2011 by Abe L
Indeed, there are sufficient employed Swedes or people living in Sweden that are unemployed. They just need to put them to work, for example by cutting welfare for those that refuse. There is absolutely no reason to import people for work that anyone that is not physically disabled can do, especially not in current times.
12:55 August 14, 2011 by lovedealer76
@conboy

Love the way you said it,couldn't have put it any better,lol
15:03 August 14, 2011 by J. L. Belmar
Yes, lol, lol, lol, lol, lol, lol, x 1,000.000.000 lol.

I can see whay many of us in the threads are simply tired with empty discussions. Only lol, lol, lol, lol, lol. Sorry lovedealer76, but I do thing that the story is very important. People from other countries lured by Swedes to pick up berries. They do not get paid. They go back to their countries without money and frustrated, plus talking beauties about Sweden. Good P:R. for Sweden. Swedes and inmigrants enjoying our money not wanting to go and pick up berries. Yes, LOL, LOL, LOL, LOL, LOL.

By the way, do you pay taxes?
23:38 August 14, 2011 by Smallnose
60 key of berries a day, that's a lot of berries to pick. I thought slavery was abolished.
17:08 August 15, 2011 by jacquelinee
@ the Local

Riveting news....simply riveting. Keep this on the front page for a few weeks but be sure to bury the article about the abuse in our elderly care facilities before it is even on the front page for 1 full day! This is so much more imperative, urgent and worthy of addressing. Good job.
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