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Moderate in the poo over immigrant labour claims

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Moderate in the poo over immigrant labour claims
16:50 CET+01:00
An aide to Swedish prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt was put on the defensive on Monday following a Facebook passage in which he praised pro-employment policies that resulted in immigrant labourers cleaning up faeces on the weekend.

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.

“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.

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