• Sweden's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Union fury at McDonald's 'job selling' scheme

5 Dec 2012, 11:35

Published: 05 Dec 2012 11:35 GMT+01:00

“It’s bloody awful and senseless that this has happened,” Per Persson, head of the Stockholm-Gotland chapter of the Hotel and Restaurant Union (Hotell- och restaurangfacket - HRF), told The Local.

“The big problem is the room for manoeuvre is so huge that things like this can happen even at a big corporation like McDonald's. You have to wonder what smaller, private restaurants can get away with.”

Persson's comments come following revelations that two managers at a McDonald's restaurant allegedly sold work permits to immigrants from Pakistan who were then forced to pay up to 100,000 kronor ($15,000) to keep their jobs and stay in Sweden.

On Monday, the Aftonbladet newspaper reported that two more McDonald's managers were likely involved in the scheme which one union official told the paper was a "slave relationship".

The growing scandal has angered union leaders who claim the government has ignored their concerns that companies are routinely abusing labour migration reforms introduced in 2008 which make it easier for Swedish companies to recruit workers from outside the European Union.

“It is outrageous and shameful,” Hotel and Restaurant Union president Ella Nilla said in a statement.

"But this is just the tip of the iceberg. We know that unscrupulous employers exploit many immigrant workers. That it has happened at McDonald's just shows the size of the problem.”

A 2011 report by the OECD praised the reforms for the most part, but pointed out that Sweden needed to implement stronger controls to protect against abuse of the system and the mistreatment of workers.

The reforms have resulted in an increase in the number of people seeking work permits in Sweden, but the union argues the change has also opened the door to more exploitation of workers by giving employers too much power.

“If the workers protest or turn to the union they are fired and lose their right to stay in Sweden. The system created by the government means that the employer can decide who can stay or not,” Nilla said.

"Who dares to protest against bad working conditions and low wages in that situation?"

McDonald's has suspended the two managers first suspected of selling work permits as police investigate the suspected case of profiteering.

“After we received tip offs and made our own inquiries, we filed a report with the police," McDonald's press officer Håkan Ström told The Local.

"Due to the police investigation and out of respect to those involved, we can’t say anything more.”

The managers could face four years in prison if they are found guilty.

While McDonald's maintains the work permit abuse is limited to the two managers currently under investigation, Aftonbladet reported that McDonald's in Sweden sought work permits for 209 Pakistanis over the last three years.

During the same period, the company received work permits for 68 workers from outside the EU, according to figures from the Swedish Migration Board (Migrationsverket).

Story continues below…

While employers must advertise jobs and show they can't be filled before recruiting a worker from outside of Europe, no one ever checked if McDonald's received any applications for the jobs eventually filled by foreign workers.

"Since 2008, no agency has been in charge of checking them. Theoretically, it may be that there many people in Sweden who could perform a job at McDonald's, but McDonald's nevertheless took in people from outside of Europe," Migration Board division head Alejandro Firpo told the TT news agency.

Meanwhile, the union claims that 9.3 percent of its members are out of work, according to Aftonbladet.

Eric Johansson/TT

twitter.com/thelocalsweden

Your comments about this article

13:30 December 5, 2012 by RobinHood
Tens of thousands of under 25's and immigrants of all ages are available for work in Sweden, and McDonalds gets approval to import another 277. This scandal extends to the government agency that granted its approval. Which dimwit thought Sweden couldn't find 277 restaurant workers within its own labor pool?
15:08 December 5, 2012 by Jes
@RobinHood , please don`t use the word "dimwit" before you find out why Sweden exports baby-sitters to USA etc . Do you really think that USA cannot find nanny s from its own labour pool ?

I am simply giving you a tip -which is that some employers do have their own reasons to use imported labour. Of courese "exploitation" can be a subjective term.
15:20 December 5, 2012 by frouzan
The matter should be investigated in detail to reveal everything. I think work permit should be bounded with country not with specify employer in order to get ride from such type of trouble like other countries such as denmark
15:24 December 5, 2012 by Rey Stockholm
Have they publsihed details of the bosses and how they contacted the workers from Pakistan
15:43 December 5, 2012 by occassional
That surely must only be the tip of the iceberg.

In other news Sweden Democrats surge in new voter poll.
16:16 December 5, 2012 by RobinHood
@jes

I can assure you there are no Swedish au pairs native to the US. Every single one was imported from Sweden.
19:10 December 6, 2012 by kaan123
@ Rey Stockholm Manager is a Pakistani christian from Lahore Pakistan.His name is Fraz Tipu. He became very popular and rich agent last year. Same time he invited many of his family members like his nephews and brother in laws by this process.
22:45 December 6, 2012 by shaaz
This is not a new good and bad peoples are everywhere but I have question about swedes employers who also treat immigrants as donkeys. I am really amazed about the implementation of labor laws and unions people don't speak up because of loss of job. I wish the author of this article should also explore the stories about Swedish employers behavior as well.
Today's headlines
Swedish police backtrack on 'gunfight' claims
The scene of the shooting on June 22nd. Photo: Christine Olsson/TT

Police have retracted a claim that a suspected gunman had fired shots at a patrol unit before officers shot him dead.

Crayfish poachers send Swedes' blood boiling
Has anyone seen this crayfish? Photo: Hasse Holmberg/TT

Oh no, not just before crayfish season!

Police hunt suspected gunman, 22, in Malmö
Rosengård Centrum. Photo: Simon Paulin/SvD/TT

Malmö police are looking for a 22-year-old suspect in connection with a shooting at a shopping centre in Rosengård.

Really old stinky cheese found on royal Swedish shipwreck
A diamond ring, the stinky cheese and gold coins. Photo: Lars Einarsson/Kalmar County Museum

Swedish scientists have discovered what is believed to be 340-year-old cheese on board a 17th century shipwreck.

Man charged with groping girls at kids' football cup
The accused in court. Photo: Adam Ihse/TT

A 36-year-old sports manager whose team was sent home from Sweden after he was accused of groping three teenage girls at an international children's football tournament now faces trial.

Concern over barrage of fake Russian news in Sweden
The Russian propaganda site Sputnik News

Sweden is being subjected to constant disinformation campaigns by Russia and Isis, according to authorities.

'Let refugees go to uni while they wait': demand
A student at Stockholm University. Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT

Asylum seekers in Sweden should be allowed to start university studies while they are waiting for decisions on their cases, it has been proposed.

The Local List
Ten Swedish phrases you only hear in summer
Let's work on that tan. Photo: Vilhelm Stokstad/TT

Summer always leaves foreigners baffled by Swedes' unique seasonal habits. Here's The Local's guide to navigating small talk when the sun comes out.

So Sweden has high taxes? Not as high as you might think
A taxpayer hands in their tax declaration. Photo: Bertil Ericson/TT

So you think Swedes pay a lot in tax? Others pay much more, according to a new study.

Man injured in shooting at Malmö shopping mall
Rosengård Centrum in Malmö. Photo: Björn Lindgren/TT

Police cordoned off an area around a shopping centre in Malmö after a man was shot on Tuesday afternoon.

Sponsored Article
What can newcomers learn about Sweden at Almedalen?
Politics
Why Sweden's high taxes are not as high as you think
Sponsored Article
5 reasons you should try dating with The Inner Circle
National
What's haggis in a condom doing on Swedish children's TV?
National
Meet the northern Swede who is the world's best mosquito killer
Blog updates

26 July

A summer of change; a summer of beauty (The Diplomatic Dispatch) »

"You would have had to try hard to miss the political upheavals in the UK after…" READ »

 

22 July

After the horror, carry on regardless (Globally Local) »

"This time last week, we were just digesting the horror of the Nice killings, in which…" READ »

 
 
 
National
Sweden's Hollywood star Alicia Vikander puts her pen in the bottle
Sponsored Article
Gran Canaria: Where Swedes go to work (and play)
Gallery
People-watching: July 22nd-24th
The Local Voices
The Jewish Syrian who dreams of rebuilding his country
National
Watch this Swedish weather host leave his fly open... on live TV
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
The Local Voices
'I fled war in Syria. I never expected to be beaten in Sweden'
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
National
WATCH: Asylum seeker brutally beaten by Swedish bus driver
Technology
Why everyone is talking about Sweden's GTA pride parade
Sponsored Article
Five easy ways to travel more often
National
EU hits truck cartel with record price fixing fine
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Society
OPINION: Why Sweden is the most extreme country in the world
The Local Voices
'There is equality in accommodation in Sweden: Everyone is suffering'
Sponsored Article
'Sweden's Lauryn Hill' touches the country's musical soul
Gallery
Property of the week: Gräsö, Östhammar
Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
Gallery
People-watching: July 15th-17th
National
How to make sure you're not caught out by Sweden's old bank notes
Sponsored Article
Local guide: the best of Berlin
Business & Money
Why Sweden has been named the most innovative country in Europe
Sponsored Article
Why you need a EuroBonus American Express Card
National
Terror attack: what should you do?
National
French expat on the moment he was assaulted by a Stockholm bouncer
Technology
Gunman? Nah, smartphone Swede
The Local Voices
'If the war in Syria ended today, would you go back?'
The Local Voices
‘I feel like I’m living in a grave!’
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Sweden's Princess Victoria celebrates 39th birthday
Gallery
People-watching: July 13th
National
Swedes discover surprise mountain
Politics
What Sweden's home secretary thinks of Britain's new PM
Gallery
Property of the week: Smedjebacken, Dalarna
The Local Voices
'Even xenophobic Swedes can be polite’
Politics
WATCH: A very Swedish take on Brexit...
The Local Voices
'The best time to be smuggled to Europe is August 20th, 2015'
The Local Voices
Swedes: Stop obsessing over your material life and start talking to strangers
3,335
jobs available