• Sweden's news in English
 
almadalen_header

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
LIVE: Sweden's political power forum - Day Eight
Liberal Party leader Jan Björklund. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

LIVE: Sweden's political power forum - Day Eight

The Swedish Liberal Party will be hoping to score some new support after a year of plummeting in the polls when its leader Jan Björklund takes centre stage on the final day of Almedalen Week. READ  

Swedes on cusp of snail control breakthrough
Snails are enjoying a bumper year at Swedish gardeners' expense. Photo: By macrophile on Flickr via Wikimedia Commons

Swedes on cusp of snail control breakthrough

Since the spring, frequent rain has ensured prime conditions for one of the gardener’s biggest enemies - the snail. Swedish scientists, however, may have found the ultimate deterrent. READ  

Almedalen 2015
BLOG: Sweden's political power forum - Day Seven
Left Party leader Jonas Sjöstedt speaking at Almedalen 2015 on Saturday. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

BLOG: Sweden's political power forum - Day Seven

It's the seventh day of Almedalen, the most important week in Swedish politics, and the Left Party is running the show. The Local is live blogging the key moments. READ  

Russian bombers seen off Swedish coast
A Russian Tu-22M3 Tu-bomber. Photo: Pavel Golovkin

Russian bombers seen off Swedish coast

Swedish fighter jets were sent on Saturday morning to monitor the activity of two Russian bombers to the east of Gotland. READ  

Almedalen 2015 with the EU Commission in Sweden
'Today's refugees could be tomorrow's Zlatan'
Photo: Simon Paulin/imagebank.sweden.se

'Today's refugees could be tomorrow's Zlatan'

Sweden is grappling with how to handle a large influx of asylum seekers while some other EU nations brush off responsibility – but it's important to focus on the benefits of immigration as well, high-profile panelists agreed at an Almedalen event. READ  

Almedalen 2015
Opposition head pledges lower taxes on first jobs
Sweden's Moderate party leader Anna Kinberg Batra at Almedalen. Photo: Marcus Ericsson/TT

Opposition head pledges lower taxes on first jobs

Moderate Party leader Anna Kinberg Batra spoke about jobs in her first speech at Almedalen since becoming head of Sweden's biggest opposition party. READ  

Almedalen 2015
BLOG: Sweden's political power forum - Day Six
New Moderate Party leader Anna Kinberg Batra speaking at Almedalen. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

BLOG: Sweden's political power forum - Day Six

Anna Kinberg Batra - the new leader of Sweden's biggest opposition party, the Moderates - focused on job creation in her first speech at Almedalen, Sweden's huge week-long politics forum. READ  

Jump in solo children seeking Swedish asylum
A playground at Märsta immigration centre in Sweden. Maja Suslin/TT

Jump in solo children seeking Swedish asylum

A record 1447 unaccompanied children sought asylum in Sweden last month, figures from the Swedish Migration Board have revealed. READ  

Almedalen 2015
Cashless society faces backlash from losers
What are the downsides of a cashless society? Photo: Per Larsson/TT

Cashless society faces backlash from losers

Sweden is possibly the nearest thing the world has to a cashless society, but some Swedes are worried about the effects on rural areas, pensioners - and personal integrity. READ  

Almedalen 2015
Sweden's green leader in second Auschwitz gaffe
Åsa Romson at Sweden's Almedalen Week. Photo: Marcus Ericsson/TT

Sweden's green leader in second Auschwitz gaffe

UPDATED: Sweden's Deputy Prime Minister and Green Party leader Åsa Romson has stirred up a storm after she placed Auschwitz in southern Germany instead of Poland, her second gaffe about the holocaust. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
National
Learning Swedish: different rules for expats and refugees?
Sport
IN PICTURES: Thousands welcome home Sweden’s heroes
Politics
Almedalen: The Local's guide to Sweden's power players week
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Swedes soak up sun on hottest day of year
Sport
Sweden celebrates greatest sporting victory in decades
Blog updates

2 July

Som eller att (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hejsan! It happens quite often, that my students are confused over when to use “som” and when..." READ »

 

26 June

Editor’s blog, June 26th (The Local Sweden) »

"Greetings from Stockholm, We’re about to transport our newsroom to the idyllic Swedish island of Gotland for..." READ »

 
 
 
Gallery
People-watching: July 1st
Sponsored Article
VIP Mingle at Almedalen's hottest event
National
Swede battles slug invasion
Sponsored Article
What can we learn from Swedish women's sex habits?
National
VIDEO: Is this herring tasting clip an 'insult to Sweden'?
Gallery
Property of the week: Visby, Gotland
National
Sweden set for sunniest week of year
Gallery
People-watching: June 26th-28th
Features
The Local's essential guide to who's who in Swedish politics
National
More Swedish military exercises as Russia aggression fears grow
National
What's on in Sweden this week
Travel
Why Swedish camp sites are set for a bumper summer
National
Swedish summer's really on its way (at least according to forecasters)
Gallery
People-watching: June 24th
National
Why are southern Swedes angry about becoming 'Danish' again?
Society
Lifestyle: When to catch your favourite features on The Local
National
Is Sweden one of the world's most peaceful nations?
Sponsored Article
Harstena: Travelling to Sweden's secret islands
National
One in ten Swedish cats homeless
Sponsored Article
'I constantly evolve my Swedishness'
Gallery
Property of the week: Värmdö, Stockholm
Society
Would you eat this Swedish pizza?
National
Swedish royals' dream honeymoon
National
Swedish hospital opens first centre for male rape victims
Gallery
People-watching: June 20th-21st
Photo: TT
Lifestyle
Midsummer: The Local's guide to Sweden's craziest festival
Sponsored Article
Murder, myth and magic: Travelling to the birthplace of Sweden
Gallery
People-watching: June 17th
Sponsored Article
Gallery: Life in Sweden's secret archipelago
Society
Seven alternative names for Sweden's Prince Nicolas Paul Gustaf
National
FBI returns stolen Swedish books
National
Want to smell like Zlatan?
National
Royal joy over birth of new prince
Gallery
Property of the week: Brantevik, Simrishamn
National
How racy graffiti inspired a teacher's high school sex class
Gallery
People-watching: June 12th-14th
National
As it happened: Prince Carl Philip marries Sofia Hellqvist
Technology
Is Stockholm the world's creative capital?
National
Timeline: Julian Assange case
Sponsored Article
KTH President: ‘Sweden’s success is because of its size’
Gallery
IN PICTURES: New royal couple Prince Carl Philip and Sofia Hellqvist
Features
Ten Swedish festivals to discover
Features
Ten reasons Stockholm is definitely way cooler than Copenhagen
National
VIDEO: Watch Swedish man rescue baby elk from cold creek
National
VIDEO: Have you seen this jet ski blunder at a Malmö hotel opening?
Sponsored Article
Why expat women are choosing Swedish natural birth control
Bupa
Sponsored Article
Healthcare: Nine questions every expat should ask
Sponsored Article
The millionaire teacher who leads by tough love
Sponsored Article
How to change the world: Malmö to Mogadishu
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

3,216
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