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Migrant workers on the rise in Sweden

Published: 23 Nov 2011 12:47 GMT+01:00
Updated: 23 Nov 2011 12:47 GMT+01:00

The number of people coming to Sweden to work is rising at the same time as the number of refugees coming to the country is falling, according to new figures from Statistics Sweden (Statistiska Centralbyrån, SCB).

The figures show that immigrants coming to Sweden to work has doubled since 2004, to 8,667 in 2010.

This includes those that have become registrered residents in Sweden and have stayed in Sweden for at least a year.

The trend is even more visible looking at the numbers from the Swedish Migration Board (Migrationsverket).

Since the new law came into effect, the agency has granted about 40,000 work permits to non-EU residents, although these figures only show how many permits were granted, not how many immigrants actually arrived in Sweden.

According to former minister for migration, Social Democrat Jan O. Karlsson, immmigration policy in Sweden was long goverened by the country's wish to feel benevolent.

”Only those we pitied were allowed in. It is very much a colonial way of thinking. New and modern immigration policy builds more on a global and reciprocal dependence,” he told daily Dagens Nyheter (DN).

Karlsson is referring to changes to the law on labour migration from 2008, which could be argued to be one of the most generous policies when it comes to granting work permits to residents from outside the EU.

The change to the law meant that a the Swedish National Employment Office (Arbetsförmedlingen) no longer needed to prove there was a need on the Swedish labour force before a non-EU worker could be recruited for a position in Sweden.

Following the change, individual employers are granted the power to determine their staffing needs and meaning that an offer of employment from a Swedish employer can be enough for a non-EU worker to be granted a Swedish work permit.

The permits are limited to time, but can become permanent after four years.

One of the staunchest opposers to the change, the chair of the Swedish Trade Union Confederation (Landsorganisationen, LO), Wanja Lundby Wedin, thinks that the need for workers should be still be determined by the employment agency before non-EU residents are recruited.

”Unemployment within the EU is enormous. The employers' motives in bringing people in from countries outside of the EU, to clean or to work in restaurants, is to get a labour force who will agree to work under terrible condidtions,” she told DN.

However, current minister for migration, Tobias Billström, points out that many areas have had problems with illegal workers for a number of years.

”This law makes it possible for people who want to work to do so legally. Those that are in Sweden under false pretenses can never argue their cause. Someone with a work permit can get help from their union,” he said to the paper.

Nevertheless, the Swedish Migration Board has called for rules governing the granting of work permits to be strengthened to help prevent migrant workers from being taken advantage of by unscrupulous employers.

From mid-January, companies need to be able to show that salaries, insurance and employers' fees have been met and that employers have been infomed of working conditions.

In addition, staffing companies based in countries outside the EU will be required to have a registered subsidiary in Sweden.

TT/Rebecca Martin (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

13:51 November 23, 2011 by London_Jim
There's no problem with migrant workers as long as the jobs are there.

The issues occur when those jobs go and the country is left with a lot of people without income or savings and so will need to be supported.

Another issue is the immorality of businesses keeping wages artificially low by employing people for the smallest amount who have the lowest outgoings. It's a short-term economy fix with long term issues.
14:03 November 23, 2011 by Iraniboy
@London_jim

Then you probably have never read the rules of work permits. If you get a job in Sweden you will get permit for two years. If you lose the job and don't find within 6 months you have to leave. If you have the job for two more years then you get another two year permit. You still lose your permit if you lose a job and you don't get any 6 months. You will get the permanent permit once you have shown you have worked 4 years continually in Sweden. This is a long enough to support the idea that this person is capable of finding a job in the country. So your argument is not the case in Sweden. The only current issue in Sweden is now fake employments which can be tackled by recent law that force employers to prove that they can pay the salary for two years for the employee and that is the same amount of time they will be given work permit.
16:54 November 23, 2011 by Kaethar
Good. We need many more migrant workers and much less refugees though, but it's a start.
22:51 November 23, 2011 by skumdum
Yes we really needed those 2000 cleaners and 500 kitchen workers and we need even more busboys in the future to fill all the vacancies.
23:03 November 23, 2011 by sabrina8z
@Iraniboy

I guess u didn't know someone take advantage of the policy. But I did.

The employer paid everything according to the law, tax, insurance and employer tax, but these only existed in paper, what did he do next?

The employees have to transfer some money to the employer's friends or relatives' bank account since they need to pay some money called gurantee, or the employer would say truely that salary in offer was just in paper, in fact another rule works. How can the immigration board know these tricks behind?

If the employees refused, what would happen? Got fired or were threated in a way and promised hiring them 4 years until they get permanent residence

Most of the employees don't know Swedish, how many percentage for them to find a new job in Sweden? How much it cost for employees standing up and fight for their rights?

I am a work visa holder with an job offer 16500kr for 40h/w. Even though I thought I have work overtime sometimes since I am a newcomer, I have to sacrify more to get equal pay and opportunity. But it turned out for the past 2 years, I had to work average at least 12hours 6 d/w and forever a fixed salary 8000kr/m.

The first year the employer always asked me to work on

sunday for few hours in warehouse when someone came to fether the products or whole day at home counting the working hours of other employees end of every month. When I asked for compensation for working too long, maybe let me worked only workday afternoons and Sat and Sunday, she threated me not paying tax for me for 3 months, then I couldn't keep my job. When I asked to go back my country one month to visit my husband after working in Sweden for nearly 2 years, I was not allow to talk vocation and got fired the day my work visa expiried. Only half a month before getting fired, I even got 2ed offer for another 2 years to extend my work visa, the employer wrote a letter telling the immigration board he didn't need me any more. What can I do?

There's no Human resources department in the company, employees are hated if talking about or joining union, no work rights at work. A few of my colleagues telling me they were treated the same way, but for the permanent residence, they have to agree with what the employee offered.

I got my offer outside Sweden. I wouldn't come to work if I know thing would be like that. Now I lost my job and reported my case to immigration board, I don't know whether they would help me get the money back. If the immigration board doesn't help me, I don't know what to do since my baby is soon coming to the world in March next year, I worked here for 2 years with empty hands home even no medical insurance in my country since i left for over 2 years and didn't pay tax and medical insurance. ........

What a invisible future waiting for me!
01:33 November 24, 2011 by muscle
ahh well. I love my software engineering field. not too geeky and in abundance
06:30 November 24, 2011 by skatty
You mean the number of immigrants increase, and the number of refugees decrease.

It is a good news for refugees. I am not sure if it is a good news for Swedes or not, because they generally don't know the difference between immigrant and refugee!

For example in the last three decades Swedes have called refugees "immigrants", even though over 90%, who have moved to Sweden have been refugees, and went through a refugee process (never passed any immigration process, and would never come as immigrant in Sweden, could not even think about coming to Sweden as immigrant, and not even to feel the need to come to Sweden as immigrant!)
09:28 November 24, 2011 by clacke
Um. An immigrant is someone who migrates in, no need to make definitions more complicated than that. I do agree though that the debate in Sweden often fails to distinguish the different categories of immigrants, such as refugees, returning citizens/residents, family members of citizens/residents, workers etc. This has been improving lately, though, of which this very article is an example.
06:32 November 25, 2011 by skatty
@clacke

It's not complicated. The immigrants (over 90%), who immigrated in Sweden in the last 30 years, have never filled an application to apply for immigration to Sweden (and would never do it), but they have filled a blanket to apply for asylum in Sweden (because of a particular situation in their own country), which means they practically are refugees.

However, in Sweden refugees would be considered immigrants. Refugees would be accepted or refused by Swedes, but the applicant is a refugee and base on humanitarian or political reason be accepted or refused.

The best example of why Swedes don't know the differences between immigrant and refuges is what Jan O. Karlsson says:

"Only those we pitied were allowed in. It is very much a colonial way of thinking. New and modern immigration policy builds more on a global and reciprocal dependence," he told daily Dagens Nyheter (DN).

As a matter of fact, in Europe they are immigrants from the former colonies, who immigrate from outside of EU to the main European countries, and not refugees! Refugees can be from non-colonial countries and move to any other country.
12:47 November 28, 2011 by justiceforall
Comment: I have gone through all the comments here. But Look ! Do you know how much your employer pays for you? If you receive 70 to your account, then 30 for tax, 31,32 for employertax your employer directly pays to skatteverket. Then he also pays 30% for his incometax (or egenavgift) from his profit, Then he has to pay for insurances, various fees for various permits (tobaktillstånd, folköltillstånd, gatukontorettilsstånd, kollektivavtal, m.m), rents, tele, data, copmputers, internets, interests, fines for late payments, transport and logistics, and then he has to pay for the goods that he bought for the business for the customers, he has to pay for himself, his/her family, friends, society, entertainment, and he has to bear the losses if occurs by any mistakes or by the misfortune. The workers who wnated to come and work or settle in to Europe/ or in Sweden they will enter here by anyhow. May be as refugee, or as students or as political shelters, or as workers, or as ´trafficking. They will pay for entering Europe to anybody, may be to their homecountry representatives/ middleman, or may be in some cases any employer. So what's the wrong if an employer receive some money or any other benefits employing someone like that? Working conditions, really working or not, payments, all these things do not only depend on the Employer. People who come to europe guess that Europe is money tree, heaven, or something else! So they forget that they have to work hard and fight against reality. That's why in many cases these problems arise. So, my suggestion is that do not always talk about the employees, sometimes think about the employers too. For example 50,000 people came to sweden with work permits, and 25,000 of them working properly and rest flew somewhere. So what is the problem? At least 50% are working legally, instead of government paying those refugees for their kind presence in Europe! Employer also needs satisfaction or Relaiability on the employees those he (employer) wanting to employ in his company, eller hur? So what's the problem if an employer employ his/her known people. He/she can't employ anyone just whoever wants to be employed! .................Any comments write to me.
22:47 November 28, 2011 by salalah
We don't need people from South Asia comig here on work permits to clean. There are enough unemployed people here already to fill all the vacancies in restaurants and as cleaners. First, the government brings all those poeple here and then they complain that the refugees (immigrants) are unemployed.

First, create jobs for those already here.

Second, stop bringing more refugees here because the whole welfare system is breaking down. Swedes will be even more furious when they will be out of work and suffer financially. It will be easy to blame all the foreigners just as Hitler blamed the Jews for all misery. Germany in the 1930's was in a depression with lots of unemployed Germans who saw how wealthy the Jewish merchants and bankers were.

Sweden is close to the same situation and when more manufacturing jobs disappear at Volvo and Saab, you will see more and more attacks on immigrants
20:34 November 30, 2011 by justiceforall
Good that you do not want people from south asia to come and work. But do you want people from Aafghanistan and Irak and Soamlia or from somewhere else to come with 2 wives and 4 children and the governments pay them all?
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