• Sweden's news in English
 

Swedish forestry firms in migrant labour scandal

Published: 23 Jan 2013 08:53 GMT+01:00

"We're talking about human trafficking, plain and simple," Tommy Andersson of GS, the Swedish union of forestry, wood and graphical workers, told Svergies Television (SVT) investigative news programme Uppdrag granskning.

According to a programme to be broadcast on Wednesday night, Swedish forestry giants SCA and Holmen hire agents to recruit migrant workers from Cameroon, luring them to Sweden with false promises of good pay.

The practice has been going on for the past two years and involves sending documents to the Swedish Migration Board (Migrationsverket) indicating the workers will earn 18,500 kronor ($2,825) per month and which have been approved by the union.

But the promised wages appear only to exist on paper, according to Uppdrag granskning.

When the Cameroonian workers arrive in the forests of northern Sweden, they are forced to carry out piece work for much lower pay.

They were also forced to pay hefty fees to the agents before being allowed to start working in the first place.

When some of the workers complained, the agent threatened to burn down their homes back in Cameroon, according to the SVT report.

Six months after the end of the planting season, many of the Cameroonian workers remain in Sweden as undocumented immigrants.

They lack housing, money, and work and are afraid to return home because they lack money to pay off the debts incurred to make the journey to Sweden.

The Swedish forestry firms told Uppdrag granskning they were also "duped" by the recruiting agents, but claim they have no obligation to help the workers with their predicament.

"We have a contract agreement with businesslike provisions with the agent. We don't have any agreement which involves any responsibility for their staff," Jan Sandström, regional manager with Holmen AB, told SVT.

TT/The Local/dl

Follow The Local on Twitter

Your comments about this article

10:30 January 23, 2013 by bourgeoisieboheme
Sounds like these guys just want a way in to the land of the free handouts. Not sure I buy the asylum seekers stories. Seems anyone can claim anything these days and get to stay in Sweden... unless you are a skilled worker who wants to move from, Canada or the US, then you are stuck.
11:03 January 23, 2013 by skatty
If Sweden could manage to establish some colonies in Africa and Asia for some centuries ago (like the rest of Western European countries, which can manage to get cheap labor from their previous colonies, and force them to low paid jobs in Europe) then the Swedish companies did not have to lure migrant workers to low paid jobs in Sweden.

Sweden could get cheap labor legally and happily abuse them without much problem (it did not even have to get lot of refugees and unhappily call them immigrants who suppose to work as cheap labor!)
11:23 January 23, 2013 by Rishonim
This story sounds rather fishy to me. First of all, I never heard of any Swedish company happily employing black people or any one with a foreign sounding name. Secondly, Swedes always pull the you need to speak Swedish card so why would they import a bunch of people from Cameroon who can hardly speak English! (sarcasm) :-))))
13:24 January 23, 2013 by Migga
What proof is there that it`s the swedish companies luring these workers here and not the recruiting agents? Who are these recruiting agents? Swedish? Cameroonian? Third party? Is it the swedish companies fault that these workers run up a debt? Why aren`t these workers sent home when they breach their working terms and stay here illegally?
13:57 January 23, 2013 by RobinHood
Good CSR within the supply chain obviously passed poor Mr Sandström by.

It's time for Holmen to give Mr Sandström his gold watch I think.
14:59 January 23, 2013 by cabralb
Well folks, none of you came up with a point. The moment where ordinary public like me and you go wrong is when we start we find our perspectives defined in terms of nations and states. what a crap!! Here the situation is more than that. It is about a network of small greedy people misusing the opportunities lied there. Why in the first place this happens, while we boast of having a secure system? It is quite unfortunate. The same is the case with the chocolate producing companies, where we enjoy their products and never took a minute to see how the production like is constructed in a slavery-like chain. And the company here in Sweden telling they have no obligation as to what the situation of the workers, their true nature of relationships with the recruiting agencies? I can only laugh at this statement. Had it not been for this kind of investigation, the leadership of the company would proudly present themselves that 'we have the safest workers condition' You guys pissed me off.
16:06 January 23, 2013 by Rishonim
@cabralb, you are right but as usual, no one in Sweden ever take responsibility for anything and no one is held accountable for their actions. They should apply the same type of scrutiny as they do with factories employing child labour. Unfortunately in Sweden all you need to do claim ignorance and nothing will happen to you.
02:48 January 31, 2013 by Marc the Texan
So pay them what they are owed and send them home. Why do

I get the feeling that this is no longer about pay, but about staying in Sweden?
Today's headlines
Christian Democrats elect first female leader
Photo: TT

Christian Democrats elect first female leader

Sweden’s Christian Democrats on Saturday unanimously elected Ebba Busch Thor as the party’s leader, replacing Göran Hägglund. At 28, she’s the youngest person to ever lead a Swedish party in parliament. READ  

Municipal interpreters spoke wrong language
Most migrants from Romania speak Romanian, not Romany. Photo: TT

Municipal interpreters spoke wrong language

The municipality of Helsingborg hired interpreters to communicate with migrants from Romania. Problem was, the interpreters spoke a language the Romanians didn’t know at all. READ  

Swede wins world boxing title
Badou, left, connects with Anthony Dirrell during the fight in Chicago. Photo: AFP

Swede wins world boxing title

Sweden's Badou Jack claimed the World Boxing Council's super middleweight title as he outpointed previously unbeaten Anthony Dirrell in Chicago on Friday night. READ  

Swedish police officers praised by New Yorkers
The Swedish police heroes meet with NYPD heads. Photo: New York Police Department/TT

Swedish police officers praised by New Yorkers

A video has emerged of Swedish off-duty police officers breaking up a violent fight on the New York subway. READ  

Eighth happiest: why are the Swedes not pleased?
Swedes are the eighth happiest people in the world. Photo: Susanne Walström/imagebank.sweden.se

Eighth happiest: why are the Swedes not pleased?

Sweden is the eighth happiest country in the world, according to the UN. But the result has not gone down well in the Nordic country. The Local caught up with an expert to find out why. READ  

Löfven: Palestine move was done by the book
Stefan Löfven gets a grilling from the powerful Constitutional Affairs Committee of the Swedish parliament. Photo. Henrik Montgomery/Scanpix

Löfven: Palestine move was done by the book

Sweden’s Prime Minister Stefan Löfven has denied that he bypassed parliament when the country recognized Palestine last year. READ  

Early summer sweeps in across much of Sweden
Swedes enjoying the sunshine in Stockholm. Photo: The Local

Early summer sweeps in across much of Sweden

Get the barbeque out and your swim suit ready – summer is here. In fact, western and parts of central Sweden have been able to enjoy the year's warmest season for the past seven days. READ  

Defence giant Saab sees surprise fall in profits
Saab chief executive Håkan Buskhe at a press conference on Friday. Photo: Sören Andersson/TT

Defence giant Saab sees surprise fall in profits

Swedish defence giant Saab announced a surprise drop in first-quarter operating profits on Friday, while the company took a 3.8 percent tumble on the Stockholm stock market. READ  

Need more space? Check out Sweden's priciest flat
An artist's impression of the sitting room of Sweden's most expensive apartment. Image: Sivkraft

Need more space? Check out Sweden's priciest flat

Is money burning a hole in your pocket? Sweden's most expensive apartment in history could help you offload some cash. READ  

Thieves crash loader into store in Stockholm raid
Thieves crashed a loader through the walls of a Swedish electronics store. Photo: Maja Suslin/TT

Thieves crash loader into store in Stockholm raid

Swedish police are investigating after thieves carried out an advanced smash and grab heist on an electronics store in Stockholm on Friday morning. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
National
What's on in Sweden: April 23rd - 30th
Features
My bizarre Swedish habits that foreigners just don't understand
Stockholm School of Economics
Sponsored Article
How the Stockholm School of Economics changes expat lives
National
Brits in Sweden face NHS black hole
Swedish Hasbeens
Sponsored Article
Is the world wrong to connect Sweden with sex?
Blog updates

24 April

Editor’s blog, April 24th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hi readers, Spring has well and truly arrived, as evidenced by the start of strawberry season. The..." READ »

 

15 April

Gång, timme, tid & dags (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hej! In this article I will talk about “gång”, “timmar”, “dags” and “tid”, because they all translate..." READ »

 
 
 
Business & Money
The Swedish regions where you're least likely to stay jobless
Gallery
People-watching: April 22nd
Sport
Sweden's Eriksson joins row over foreign England player quotas
National
MEP says ignoring migrant crisis like 'Sweden's Holocaust appeasement'
Gallery
IN PICTURES: The Swedish mining town that's being moved
National
How much would you pay for first Swedish strawberries of 2015?
Gallery
Property of the week: Kungsholmen, Stockholm
Sponsored Article
Want to study in Sweden? Read why Stockholm is the best choice
Photo: TT
National
Get set for a sunny week in Sweden
Sponsored Article
Does far-north Sweden have to punch above its weight?
National
Refugees in Sweden fear for families lost at sea
National
Syria claims ‘most dangerous’ Isis leaders are Scandinavian
Gallery
People-watching: April 18th
National
Swedish researchers pore over link between coffee and cancer
Features
What you can buy in Sweden for the price of a London shed
National
What's on in Sweden this week
National
Swedes launch first donut into space
Politics
Is Sweden returning to 1990s social democratic welfare politics?
National
Mamma Mia! Abba entertainment venue set to open in Stockholm
Gallery
People-watching: April 15th
National
Why Sweden is top place in the world for expats to raise children
National
Swedish 'submarine' was civilian boat
National
Why has a US town got pulled into a Swedish spelling row?
Gallery
Property of the week: Hovås, Gothenburg
National
What does Zlatan think of his ban?
National
Swedish teenagers help rebuild Breivik massacre island
National
Would you live in a steel box?
National
How an act of kindness by one Syrian immigrant went viral
Gallery
People-watching: April 8th
National
Swedish bids for Billboard fame
National
Swedish monkeys denied Saudi visas
National
Sunny spring weather predicted
Sponsored Article
'Impossible' to run Skanska without Bromma Airport
National
Half of Swedes want begging ban
Gallery
Property of the week: Gotland
National
Why are expats less likely to settle down with Swedes?
Sport
What does Sweden think of Zlatan's recent outburst?
Society
Get to grips with Sweden's most bizarre Easter traditions
Gallery
People-watching: April 1st
National
The Local's best April Fools' gags
National
US spy agency to feature in new 'Stieg Larsson' book sequel
National
Beaver bite at Swedish bus stop
Gallery
Property of the week: Åreda
Sponsored Article
'Sweden must embrace openness and diversity'
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

3,307
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:
psdmedia.se