• Sweden's news in English

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


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

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 'knowledge hubs' to fight extremism
The new centres are aimed at discouraging Swedish youths from joining up with Islamic extremist groups such as Isis. Photo:AP/TT

Swedish 'knowledge hubs' to fight extremism

10 hours ago

Sweden's National Coordinator against Violent Extremism, Mona Sahlin, has announced a pilot programme to set up special centres in four cities in order to prevent the recruitment of people to extremist groups.

Eurovision 2016
Eurovision ticket chaos leaves fans fuming
Sweden's Eurovision 2015 winner Måns Zelmerlöw. Photo: Jessica Gow/TT

Eurovision ticket chaos leaves fans fuming

12 hours ago

Chaos reigned supreme on Thursday when tickets for next year's Eurovision Song Contest in Stockholm were released for sale and users experienced major technical problems with the ticketing website.

Refugee crisis
Five myths about Sweden's refugee crisis
Refugees at the Malmö branch of Sweden's Migration Agency. Photo: TT

Five myths about Sweden's refugee crisis

13 hours ago

UPDATED: Sweden's reputation for openness is being questioned as it tightens asylum rules and border controls. But how much are attitudes really changing? Here's a truth check on some of the more common misperceptions about how the refugee crisis is affecting the Nordic country.

10,000 Swedes tell Google to forget them
Google is assessing almost 10,000 privacy requests from Sweden. Photo: Paul Sakuma/Google

10,000 Swedes tell Google to forget them

13 hours ago

According to fresh data, almost 10,000 Swedes have lodged privacy requests with American tech giant Google for search removals but only around 41 percent have been approved.

The Local Recipes
How to make Swedish mulled wine: glögg
Swedish mulled wine served the traditional way. Photo: Claudio Bresciani/TT

How to make Swedish mulled wine: glögg

14 hours ago

One drink in particular keeps the Swedes warm in winter: glögg. The beverage has been a Christmas tradition in Sweden since the 1890s. John Duxbury shares his favourite recipe with The Local.

Swedish party named in refugee ads slams drive
Sweden Democrat leader Jimmie Åkesson. Photo: Claudio Bresciani/TT

Swedish party named in refugee ads slams drive

16 hours ago

An international campaign by the far-right Sweden Democrats has been sharply criticized – after they used a centre-right mainstream party's signature alongside their own without permission.

Presented by American Express
The quickest route to UK Eurobonus destinations
Photo: Berit Watkin/Flickr

The quickest route to UK Eurobonus destinations

17 hours ago

Time for a getaway? The UK is just a short flight away from Sweden, and there are numerous great options for weekend away. Here are the top five.

Five weirdest attacks on Sweden's straw yule goat
The Gävle Goat in happier times. Photo: Andreas Bardell/TT

Five weirdest attacks on Sweden's straw yule goat

18 hours ago

An iconic Christmas straw goat that gets torched almost every year in Gävle, Sweden, was erected on Thursday. The Local takes a look at some of the most outrageous attempts to destroy it.

Winter in Sweden
An Arctic tradition: hunting and handicraft
Sami guide their reindeer in Karesuando. Photo: TT

An Arctic tradition: hunting and handicraft

20 hours ago

You've seen the city life, Stockholm clubs and Gothenburg streetcars - but there's another side of Sweden, wild and raw. The Local spoke with Peter Siikavuopio, a Swedish trapper living in the far north, about his craft.

Swedish police probe fatal attack in Norrköping
Stock picture of a Swedish police officer. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

Swedish police probe fatal attack in Norrköping

20 hours ago

UPDATED: Police have launched a murder investigation after one man died and another was left fighting for his life in hospital on Thursday following a mystery assault in Norrköping in central Sweden.

Five myths about Sweden's refugees
Sponsored Article
Top five UK weekend getaways from Sweden
Sponsored Article
After Paris: 'The war is not only against Isis'
How did this missing Swedish cat turn up in southern France?
Would you eat this Swedish pizza?
Blog updates

25 November

So What Does An Ambassador Do? (The Diplomatic Dispatch) »

"I know that my mum is super proud that I’m an Ambassador. But if you asked..." READ »


20 November

Editor’s blog, November 20th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hi readers, It has been a long and busy week for The Local as we reported on..." READ »

Sponsored Article
How Stockholm solved a startup’s housing crisis
Sponsored Article
Swedish researchers find Ice Age 'missing link'
People-watching: November 25th
Sponsored Article
Lofsdalen: The real Swedish wilderness
What do Swedes want for Christmas?
GUIDE: How to help refugees if you live in Sweden
Sponsored Article
Beaches, bikes, and buds: studying in Malmö
Mystery ice circle in Swedish river
Sponsored Article
Sweden must combat extremist 'mirage'
IN PICTURES: New royal winter snaps of Sweden's Princess Estelle
Property of the week: Kungsholmen, Stockholm
Sponsored Article
How to figure out healthcare abroad
Stockholm film festival's top movies
Ola Ericson/imagebank.sweden.se
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: the new epicentre of global leadership
People-watching: November 20th-22nd
Susanne Walström/imagebank.sweden.se
Sponsored Article
‘Food choices in Sweden destroy forests in Asia’
Swedish King calls for bathtub ban
Analysis & Opinion
Why you should care about Sweden raising its terror threat level
Sponsored Article
The cheapest and fastest way to transfer money
Stockholm's best international bars
Is this the best warning sign ever?
Why are more Swedes getting fat?
Sweden's tribute to Paris victims
What is Sweden's sexiest name?
VIDEO: Madonna's emotional tribute to Paris victims at Stockholm gig
Nine of the merriest Swedish Christmas fairs
Sweden cashes in on new kronor banknotes
How lonely are you in Sweden?
Roaming bear shot dead in Swedish village in Uppsala county
jobs available
PSD Media
PSD Media is marketing company that offers innovative solutions for online retailers. We provide modern solutions that help increase traffic and raise conversion. Visit our site at: