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Moderate in the poo over immigrant labour claims

David Landes · 11 Jan 2010, 16:50

Published: 11 Jan 2010 16:50 GMT+01:00

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Edvard Unsgaard, currently on parental leave from his job as a press secretary in the prime minister’s office, made a rather unpleasant discovery in the stairwell outside his apartment on Sunday morning.

According to a Facebook status update published by Unsgaard later in the day, “some idiot” had defecated in the stairwell and attempted to cover up the mess with a towel.

“I called our cleaning company, which is run by immigrants, who within 30 minutes sent over a Russian who cleaned and sanitized the stairwell,” wrote Unsgaard, who is also a member of the board of the Moderate Party chapter in Stockholm’s Norrmalm neighbourhood.

“That’s what pro-work policies are all about; the ability to send out a capable cleaner within half an hour who did a great job.”

Unsgaard added that he “thinks immigrants and immigrant entrepreneurs are unbelievable”.

But Unsgaard was left struggling to explain himself on Monday after several media reports and blog posts took issue with the Moderate Party politician’s comments, arguing he was equating immigrant labour with cleaning up faeces.

“When I saw it my first thought was to clean it up myself, but then I thought I’d call the cleaning firm which cleans our apartment,” Unsgaard told Expressen.

Speaking with the Sydsvenskan newspaper, he tried to make the connection between his praise for the cleaners and government policies designed to get more people into the workforce.

“The cleaning service we have, they usually send out some Russians. They are professional and fast. Some of them can’t speak Swedish so well. Work is a good way into Swedish society,” he told Sydsvenskan.

“There are different kinds of jobs, and cleaning work is often described by our political opponents as servant work and the like. I want to say that these entrepreneurs have done a fantastic job.”

Unsgaard claims that his status update was misinterpreted and that he simply wanted to express how happy he was that the job was done so well.

He admitted, however, that it may not have been necessary to emphasize the cleaners’ immigrant backgrounds.

Story continues below…

“I realize that people misinterpret, misunderstand, and exaggerate what was said and that’s regrettable. It’s unpleasant that some people felt that what I wrote was so wrong. I’ll be more careful with what I write in the future,” he told Expressen.

On Monday afternoon, Unsgaard added a clarification on his Facebook page.

“In order to avoid any misunderstanding: I think that it’s great to get a job done so quickly, regardless of who did it. That’s what I meant by pro-work policies. Clearly there are some who interpreted what I wrote as meaning that immigrants should only clean up poo. Nothing could be more wrong,” he wrote.

David Landes (david.landes@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

16:41 January 11, 2010 by Beynch
I need someone to explain to me why it is so wrong to send immigrants, and others too for that matter, to earn their welfare payments, regardless of what kind of work they are asked to do. As long as they are able to do it. I'm waiting for all you useless liberals to give me an explanation that I can accept. And please exclude the word 'Hitler' from your reply. Thank you.
16:58 January 11, 2010 by Puffin
The guy just comes accross as a wimp for not being able to put on a pair of rubber gloves himself and then to claim that cleaning poo is a great job for immigrants. Of course the politician himself gets a tax break for calling someone else to clean up
17:22 January 11, 2010 by Beynch
@Puffin: Not every recipient of social services can be a CEO from day one, or a rap music impresario. I say, put them to work!
19:45 January 11, 2010 by scandinavian leather
From a fashion sense alone he should have used that atrocious necktie to clean it himself
23:50 January 11, 2010 by gookha
Typical Swedish character.
01:38 January 12, 2010 by podga
It would also be nice if someone, anyone, of any nationality, were assigned to clean public sidewalks and stairs from snow and ice. You'd think it would be cheaper than having people show up at the emergency room. Out of all the largecities I've lived in - most with plenty of snow over winter - I've never seen one NOT deal with snow the way Stockholm does.
08:31 January 12, 2010 by Mr. Puppy
So an immigrant-owned-and-run company sends workers on Sunday to clean up poo and Beynch sees that as an example of lazy immigrants riding on the welfare state?
09:42 January 12, 2010 by Pigeons Can't Fly Without Wings.
@Puffin: He didn't actually say that cleaning poo is a great job for immigrants. What he said was "I think immigrants and immigrant runned companies are amazing. Last night some idiot did the no 2 in our stairway (and put their scarf there). I called my cleaning company which is run by immigrants who in just half an hour sent over a Russian lady who cleaned and sanitised the stairs. That's what pro-work policies are all about, that on a Sunday, in just half an hour be able to get an excellent cleaner who does an amazing job!".
10:45 January 12, 2010 by BrittInSweden

Why should he have to, if his apartment block has cleaning teams for it then he is well within his rights to call them and have them to deal with it.

No where in that article do I see anything insulting immigrants and the work they do. In fact he praises them for being fast and doing a good job as well as filling the niche market jobs that others don't want to do.

The same happened in the UK where immigrants opened car washes across London. They became massively popular even though no one wanted to do it the immigrants saw the gap and filled it and did well out of it too.
12:36 January 12, 2010 by Deema
@ gookha, that's also a typical swedish facebook status! ;)
14:47 January 12, 2010 by dsc

Good to see you are aware of who inspires you!
15:30 January 12, 2010 by Puffin
The other interviews he has done he has said that he thinks that this sort of job is very suitable for immigrants as their lack of skills makes tham unsuitable for other types of work in the Swedish labour market

Mind you given that he is currently taking paid paternity leave from his government job paid for by the tax payer - you would have thought that he is used to cleaning up poo :)
23:28 January 12, 2010 by homestead
I've only been in Sweden for a few months so maybe I'm missing something about how the government works here but why exactly do you need to have a pro-employment policy to get something cleaned?

If there is really a demand for this then someone will offer the money and, if the amount is acceptable, some entrepreneur will step in and agree to the deal. This kind of interaction is the basic building block of a strong economy.

It seems to me that there are two possibilities here. Either this bureaucrat is taking credit for a service that would have happened naturally without government involvement, or the government is having taxpayers pay for a level of service that they either don't need or wouldn't pay for on their own because the price would be too high.
17:22 January 13, 2010 by yankinsweden
I must say that it should have been the responsibility of the first person on the scene. The 'good' Edvard Unsgaard, currently on parental leave should have experience in the department of defecation. A little bleach, bucket, hot water, the towel already provided, and some thick rubber gloves, should do the trick next time! Shame that the elitist believe that an immigrant should be the one to do the dirty work-- has servitude ever ended/ not even in the most well-off enclaves of the planet. 'Good' Edvard could have had a future campaign slogan, "I get my hands dirty, for you". He would get my vote!
18:06 January 13, 2010 by moaca
So somebody had a dump in a stairway somewhere and somebody had to clean it up? What is the problem here? I mean, if you are employed and paid to do this then I really cannot see what the issue is. There is alway somebody that has to do a sh*t job and that woman happened to be the one. I am Swedish (no immigrant) and have cleaned loo's for years on end. No its not a nice job but somebody gotta do it and it pays the bill. So please dont give me that nonsense about the poor immigrant having to do the dirty job nobody wants. At least the Russian lady was working and not keeping her hands up like so many others expecting to getit filled without having to do anything for it. ALl wrong in my opinion. It is about bl**dy time we stopped p*ssyfooting about and start to force people to contribute for their allowance. Why can they not do clean up work? You dont need to be highly skilled to do that, so anybody claiming welfare can be put to work in one way or another. This would give them a purpose in life and some satisfaction. And they would integrate so much more, and they could proudly say that they are actually working for their living and it would be more appreciated and the country would benefit in many ways I am sure.

And this goes for both native and foreign people parasiting of our society.

Make em work!!
18:23 January 13, 2010 by insect
Let's forget what the dude said for a minute and start analyzing why someone pooped on the staircase instead. Makes a more interesting story. Personally I think it is the same dude (on parental leave) who was taking baby's poo out of the apartment then it somehow dropped (or he dropped it) and since he didn't wanna pick it, covered it with a towel instead and decided what the heck, he could fabricate a story about someone doing it...... on facebook........ and buy some free publicity. He is in politics right? That is what they do. Generate publicity at any cost.

In this case the reaction could go both ways. On one hand, people would be impressed by how he has praised the hardworkiing immigrants, or on the other hand, people could decide to take it as an insult to the "lazy uneducated" immigrants, which is exactly what happened on this forum at least.
21:03 January 13, 2010 by Mack
I still remember interviewing a Polish guy for an IT position I was trying to staff in Jarfalla. He was way overqualified for the job and I said to the HR person after the interview that I was worried he wouldn't stay if I hired him. She told me that Swedish view Polish as people that clean houses so he would likely stay if I offered him the job. She really didn't mean anything derogatory about it... it was just a statement of fact. Left me with an impression though.
23:02 January 13, 2010 by moaca
@ Mack,

If Swedes still see Polish people as cleaners then they are ignorant. My supervisor is Polish and they are darn hard workers and generally concientious. In my humble opinion, if you are qualified (or overqualified) you deserve a chance if you want to work. I am the foreigner in the UK, but I am tolerated as I have a special skill. I speak Swedish and Dutch fluently and English people dont. So they need me for the job I do. Hence why they took me on. However, every other job I went for where I had to compete with the brits, forget it. They look after their own first, and I cant blame them. (I am a Swede living in the uK). So I cannot afford to be unemployed as here there is no proper social security net like A-kassa or so.

You got me curious though, did you take him on?
17:19 January 14, 2010 by efm
There is money is "Waste" management", all you jerks.All of us produce this stinky byproduct. I remember a story in which an Italian immigrant in America used to collect or get rid of feces and other wastes in a cart for a fee, and he over heard the abuses and talks about how demeaning his labor was. Well guess what... his family became rich and a son became CEO of one ofthe biggest "Waste mangement" company in America! That's a immigrant story! So after a few years, if you come accross an immigrant driving a fancy car and lives in a mansion and runs a waste management company, you know how he did it. It is hard labor that nobody wants.
21:59 January 14, 2010 by TvAmazon
What's the big deal? An immigrant gets paid good money to do the work that a well off native would rather pay someone else to do. It's called freedom, democracy and captialism. Was either the Swede or the immigrant injured? Shouldn't the well off lazy Swede be able to pay someone to do a job he doesn't like? Shouldn't an immigrant be able to be paid to do jobs that lazy natives do not want to do? I always hear about how Swedes have such an openminded and enlighten society but the real fact is they are afraid to frankly and truthfully deal with foreigners and different races. To really be considered an openmined society Swedes have to be able to deal with all their issues even the ones that makes them feel uncomfortable. Maybe to many Swedes are lazy and do not want to deal with the issues that make them feel uncomfortable so they lie to themselves about the truth (A lot of immigrants do the work that Swedes do no feel like doing). This doesn't mean that they are enlighten just lazy delusional elitist (It's not a crime but it's certainly not enlightened either).
23:26 January 14, 2010 by Mack

No I didn't end up taking him on but basically I changed my mind on filling the position with someone at that level. I changed the job position to a lower level and went with another "doer" rather then a team lead. I just became more active with the site management. What I was really trying to point out by my comment was that I didn't care about where the guy was from. To me it is just matching a person to a job from a fit perspective... but I am not a Swede. Maybe it is the difference between the old and the new world... you need to know what your "own" is before you can look after them.

I have hired and have had work for me people from: Russia, Ukraine, Moldova, Romania, Poland,Pakistan, India, Egypt, Korea, China, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Malaysia as well as the UK and USA. My experience was that many new people to the country would be your most loyal employees as you were the one to give them a chance. For me it was always an enriching experience to learn more about other people and places.
14:25 January 15, 2010 by behan
Spot the (British) daily mail reader come on down its @Bynch

"i say put them all to work"

judging by the rest of your mutterings i'd say that is a direct quote from the daily mail at any given day of the week on any subject relating to immigrants. For those who don't know the daily mail, its readers tend to memorise prejudice remarks on issues around migration, asylum, unemployment, casualties of war, economic migrants etc and label the issue as immigrants fault or the "put them to work brigade" .

On this occasion @Bynch has chosen the current number 7 in the daily mail popular quotes. "i say put them to work"
01:54 January 16, 2010 by wenddiver
If your politicians can not create a society civil enough to stop degenerates from pooping in the stairwell, I suggest you elect the immigrant to his office. Looking at the tie I would bet he pooped in the stairwell, obviously a crazy basturd, society would be safer if the police took him and the tie to prison.

Better yet, he should have called an immigrant to bring him tanning lotion, dumbells (lifting weights) and remove the offending tie, tow hich the poop is preferable.
12:42 January 18, 2010 by Beynch
@behan: And your point is......?
11:18 January 21, 2010 by mike63
I have no probelm with anyone who does a good job. But lets look at this realistically. How educated are the Russians that wre sent out. My wife is Belorussian and has a masters degree in teaching and translating English and German, she also has a degree from Umea University as a pre-school teacher. Neither of these degrees was recognized in the UK so she is working nights wiping old peoples butts at a nursing home. What a waste of an extremely well educated person. I know the same is true in Sweden for many educated immigrants.

I think his emphasis of 'immigrtant' and 'Russian' shows his true feelings of superioirity. "See how we are helping these poor people". It's the immigratns helping the Westerners, as the immigrants usually end-up doing the work no Western would be caught dead doing themselves (ie. picking up crap).

Isn't it interesting how nothing changes with time. The Roman Empire was built on the back of slaves and Western civilisation is built on cheap labor, first our own people at teh beginning of the industrial revolution and now on immigrant labour or overseas sweat-shops. In this the Swedes are no better than anyone else.

Our worst nightmare would be financial stability in the thrid world, imagine who would clean up after us, and how much would a pair of jeans cost?
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