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Berry pickers lock up bosses in protest

AFP · 10 Aug 2010, 18:54

Published: 10 Aug 2010 18:54 GMT+02:00

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In one of the demonstrations, some 70 berry pickers locked six of their team leaders in a room at the former school where they were living.

"Six of them were locked in, they were Vietnamese foremen, and in addition to being locked in, they were beaten up and two of the six were tied up," Hans-Åke Hedin of the Dalarna county police told AFP.

The six were freed and police are looking for those responsible, he added.

Around 50 Vietnamese workers marched from their living quarters and staged a sit down protest along a road in the northern town of Nordmaling, said Magnus Haglund of the local municipality.

"I don't know what they want, they have had little contact with the municipality," Haglund told AFP.

"Those who represent their living quarters and have agreements with the berry company and the staffing company in Vietnam have tried to convince them to return (to work) to solve the conflict," he said.

Last Friday, around 120 Chinese seasonal berry pickers in northern Sweden went on a 15-kilometre (9.3-mile) nighttime march to protest their salaries.

Story continues below…

Thousands of seasonal workers from Asia, most of them from Thailand, come to Sweden each summer mainly to pick wild berries in the north under sometimes difficult working conditions.

After a disastrous season last year sent many of the foreign berry pickers home weighed down by debt instead of profits, they have this year for the first time been provided with contracts guaranteeing them a monthly wage of at least 16,372 kronor ($2,321).

Some Swedish unions however say the minimum salary is insufficient, pointing out that it in some cases is hardly enough to cover the money the workers have to shell out for things like plane tickets, housing and car rental.

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Your comments about this article

19:47 August 10, 2010 by tuerd1982
In the very beginning I am very sorry for these workers, but now totally different. Sweden is not a country like Vietnam. Here you need to speak with law not a fight or bitting. Shame on these people.
19:52 August 10, 2010 by Prat
Berry tragic.
21:32 August 10, 2010 by NataBee
What do you mean by "Sweden is not a country like Vietnam"? What is "a country like Vietnam"?
22:54 August 10, 2010 by Pacey
A country like Vietnam encourages slavery in the form of cheap labor, around 2Kronors/ hour. A country like Vietnam where laws are not respected but people make their own laws with respect to how much power they wield. Needless to say should I say more??
02:14 August 11, 2010 by markusd
I don't understand why there is a problem here. Don't the workers sit down and do the math to figure out how much they need before coming here? It sounds like they had a solid number to work with, at least for this year. If the minimum isn't enough then ask for more. If they don't get it then stay home and let the berry company pick their own berries.

I do have to agree with the unions that 16k kronor per month isn't much to work with. I think that's how much I paid for my last taxi ride in Stockholm. :-)
04:00 August 11, 2010 by NataBee
I'm sorry but you can comment on an event, but don't generalize the whole country, unless you want to sound like a racist who looks down on a nation that you never really knew that well.

I'm Vietnamese, and this surprised me as much as it did you!
11:22 August 11, 2010 by Decedo
'A country like Vietnam encourages slavery in the form of cheap labor, around 2Kronors/ hour. A country like Vietnam where laws are not respected but....'

Wow maybe Sweden is more like Vietnam than you think? Who target these people so they can then sell their product cheap at ICA?
15:00 August 11, 2010 by hugedingleberry
Are they dingleberry pickers too? I will give them a better wage if they can dingle pick.
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