Swedish companies use crisis as pretext to shed poor performers

Companies in Sweden are using the economic crisis as an excuse to fire workers who don’t measure up, according to a new study.

Roughly a third of managers interviewed for a labour market analysis carried out by the staffing company Proffice said they had used the financial crisis as a pretext to get rid of underperforming workers, the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper reports.

Often companies give notice of impending layoffs for more employees than necessary based on purely economic reasons. The phenomenon is most common in medium sized companies with 26 to 49 employees where younger managers are more willing than more seasoned bosses to use the weak economy as an excuse for getting rid of employees not seen to be pulling their weight.

For the study, respondents were asked if they agreed that the financial crisis was being used as a reason to get rid of less effective employees at their own companies.

Of managers questioned for the study, 7.6 percent were in full agreement, 30.3 percent partially agreed, and 11.1 percent slightly agreed.

Meanwhile 45.1 percent said they disagreed with the statement and 6.0 percent did not respond at all.

Of those managers who had carried out layoffs themselves, 48 percent said they had eliminated more positions than was necessary.

“The numbers confirm what many thought but couldn’t prove,” Profice CEO Lars Kry told DN.

The Legal Bureau of the Swedish Trade Union Confederation (LO-TCO Rättsskydd) has also seen evidence to suggest that employers are culling their ranks during tough economic times, which has seen an increase in the number of labour disputes in recently.

“We’ve seen this in previous periods of low economic growth. What we don’t see are people who take advantage of exceptions or negotiate a list based on ‘last in-first out’. But redundancies based on personal reasons are increasingly common during tough economic times,” said union attorney Annett Olofsson to DN.

The redundancies can also take their toll workers who remain on the job, with 44 percent of managers who have carried out layoffs reporting they sense a palpable frustration among remaining employees.

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Boys claim woman threatened them with ‘sex or deportation’

A woman who ran a refugee home in central Sweden is under investigation for sexual offences after two Afghan boys claimed she threatened them with deportation if they refused her advances.

Boys claim woman threatened them with 'sex or deportation'
File image of asylum seekers in a Migration Agency waiting room in Solna. Photo: Marcus Ericsson/TT

The boys, who have not been named, say the woman encouraged them to film her having sex with them, newspaper Eskilstuna Kuriren reports.

She then urged them to watch the films and to phone her when they missed her, they said. 

Eskilstuna Kuriren was given access to the films and believes they show the acts described by the boys, and that the woman can clearly be identified. She rejects the accusations.

The boys told Eskilstuna Kuriren they tried to inform social services and the police about what was happening but nobody listened to them.

They then went to the newspaper with their story on the advice of relatives living in another part of Sweden. 

“The boss at the home forced us into it and exploited us for sex. She knew we had to, and that nobody would help us,” one said. 

The boys say they had sex with the woman on four or five occasions, at a hotel and in her own home in the Sörmland region.

On one occasion all three were in bed together, they say, but mostly one of the boys had sex with the woman while the other filmed. 

The woman also offered the boys alcohol, they claim, saying it would help them enjoy the experience and despite them being under 18, the legal age for drinking alcohol. 

They allege that she promised to buy them clothes and toiletries if they had sex with her, but she also told them she would destroy important documents and get the migration agency to deport them if they turned her down.

They also faced sexual advances from other people in the woman’s social circle, they say. 

In an interview with Eskilstuna Kuriren one of the boys says they would be “stoned to death” if they ever went back to Afghanistan and their story got out. 

The boys were recently moved to a home in a different municipality. Local authorities there contacted the police after learning of their allegations. 

Police confirmed to the newspaper that an investigation into sexual offences was ongoing. They would not specify what the alleged offences were. 

The boys say they arrived in Sweden in November after they were urged by their families to flee Afghanistan and seek a better life.