Stranded Thai berry pickers on their way home

Stranded Thai berry pickers on their way home
Some 200 Thai berry pickers who staked their life savings to travel to Sweden to pick berries, only to find themselves penniless and stranded, have had their return trips arranged for them through donations.

After the berry pickers’ fates had come to light, help arrived from a number of sources, news agency TT reports. Luleå Council has arranged for buses so that the berry pickers can travel to Stockholm’s Arlanda Airport, from where flights will take them home to Thailand via Dubai, with tickets donated by a number of Thai authorities and companies.

“I have today ensured that everything has been arranged in the best way. I made contact with the Thai Embassy and they sent personnel to Luleå today, and we have worked through the situation together,” said Norrbotten’s County Governor Per-Ola Eriksson.

On Thursday the first buses travelled southeast via the berry pickers’ camp in Västerbotten, and then on to Arlanda.

The berry pickers were recruited by a staffing agency in Thailand that provides picking services to Swedish companies that purchase berries. The Thai staffing agency promises high incomes for those seeking their fortunes in the Swedish berry forests, but they do not guarantee any income for their employees.

When the pickers travelled the long journey from Thailand to Sweden this year, they faced tussocky forest conditions where berries were sparse. Even under ideal berry picking conditions, the pickers would have to pick considerable quantities of berries every day in order to come close earning the promised income, reports TT.

“During the autumn I will take the initiative to have a meeting with local and regional berry purchasers to come to a solution so that a situation such as this does not repeat itself,” said Eriksson.

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