Swedish embassy staff treated badly

A series of inspections of Swedish embassies around the world has revealed that in many locations the local staff are treated as second-class employees, with lower salaries and worse employment conditions than their Swedish colleagues.

Of 30 Ministry for Foreign Affairs inspection reports which were seen by Swedish Radio, 22 highlighted poor treatment of local workers.

According to the ministry’s own regulations, the 1,000 local employees in embassies around the world should be covered by the same collective labour agreements as Swedes.

In Kinshasa, Congolese staff complained that they were not receiving the pension payments they are entitled to, while Swedes at the Tanzanian embassy were said to be receiving salaries “several times higher” than local colleagues doing similar work.

Chinese employees at the embassy in Beijing have not had a pay rise “for several years” while in South Africa the locals do not have valid employment contracts.

“There’s no lack of rules and instructions, just capacity and will to live up to them,” said Åke Isaksson, who is the representative of the Union for Civil Servants at the foreign ministry.

“We should profit from the fact that local employees, perhaps because of high unemployment, do not stand up for their rights.”

But a spokesperson at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs said that the inspections had not revealed serious problems.

“The inspections are a way for us to ensure that the rules are adhered to,” press spokesperson Åsa Arvidsson told The Local.

“If we find situations where that is not the case, we will put it right.”

Sources: SR