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Sweden mistreats illegal berry pickers: report

Sweden mistreats illegal berry pickers: report

Published: 26 Oct 2011 15:18 GMT+02:00
Updated: 26 Oct 2011 15:18 GMT+02:00

Berry pickers working in Sweden without a permit are being badly mistreated, according to a new report from the labour rights watchdog Swedwatch.

Foreign workers who come to Sweden without a work permit have little or no opportunity to protest against the bad working conditions and can't turn to authorities for help or advice.

Swedwatch argues that in order to diminish the risk of foreign pickers being taken advantage of, coming to Sweden to work without papers should no longer be considered a criminal offence.

The organization also calls for wholesalers to take more responsibility for the working conditions of their foreign labour.

The group also wants to see ways to ensure that potential foreign berry pickers receive more and better information before coming to Sweden.

Sweden has recently cracked down on the practice, implementing stricter rules for recruiment agencies that bring in foreign labourers into the country.

The efforts have led to some improvements in the situation for berry pickers working in Sweden legally.

While Swedwatch isn't sure how many undocumented labourers have been working in Sweden this season, the organization estimates the number to be close to 2,500, the organization's Viveka Risberg told news agency TT.

The figure is based on the fact that the number of pickers that came to Sweden through legal channels was halved from about 5,000 to 2,500 compared to last year, while the amount of berries purchased didn't diminish during the same period.

Most of the undocumented labourers came from Asia, with the majority from Thailand, and many had applied for tourist visas in Sweden to visit relatives.

According to Swedwatch, there is a huge market for false papers and letters from made-up relatives which are used when applying for visas.

Pickers have also allegedly paid out huge sums to intermediarys in order to be able to travel to Sweden.

TT/The Local/rm (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

17:09 October 26, 2011 by Frobobbles
I wonder HOW you are supposed to treat an ILLEGAL berry picker.
18:24 October 26, 2011 by Mina08
Why dont they unemployed to do this job, instead flying in workers, makes no sense
18:32 October 26, 2011 by Just_Kidding
Are they sure that those who came last year have left the country?
19:34 October 26, 2011 by pathfinder.uppsala
Most of the cases i know all these berry pickers has chosen and paid money to those corrupted recruiting agencies or people just to be able to come in Europe in a cheaper and easier way.

now these people are using their bad situation to prove and get accepted for a longer period of time or just live permanently.

it's a both way situation.where both the parties are aware of the risks involved.

The berry pickers has the opportunity to come Europe and claim their rights by abusing the social benefits and the recruiter made huge money just to create the opportunity to help them get in to Europe.
09:17 October 27, 2011 by RobinHood
It is quite right that entering Sweden without the correct documents should not be a crime, for berry pickers, or for anyone else. Sweden should be a haven for all the world's berry pickers. Think how much money Sweden would save by dismantling expensive institutions like Tullen. The savings could be used to invest in Sweden's berry production facilities, so there would be jobs for even more berry pickers. Sweden would become the berry production capital of the world. In fact all Sweden's heavy industries should be closed, and the factories turned over to berry farms. Sweden's national flag should be changed to a single blueberry on a white background.

Thank you Swedwatch.
13:03 October 27, 2011 by robban70226
With so many thousand os unamployes people sitting home watching soap operas all day and getting a check for it, Why do they need to Import people? Something dont add up in this equation...
14:57 October 27, 2011 by nathan45
If they want rights apply legally theres a reason its illeagle duh!
00:49 October 29, 2011 by salalah
And? Where's the sensational revelation? I am still looking for it.
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