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Berry pickers arrested for locking up bosses

TT/The Local · 11 Aug 2010, 13:53

Published: 11 Aug 2010 13:53 GMT+02:00

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Two men are also being held on suspicion of unlawful detention and one for unlawful threats, according to the police.

The six team leaders are reported to have been assaulted in connection with being locked up and two people are reported to have been tied up.

The detained men are from Vietnam and are aged between 19 and 27-years-old.

There have been a series of protests involving immigrant workers who came to Sweden to pick berries in northern areas.

The Local reported on Tuesday that around 120 workers from Vietnam staged two demonstrations. Aside from the incident at the school building in Särna in Dalarna, around 50 Vietnamese workers staged a sit down protest along a road in the town of Nordmaling.

Furthermore on Friday around 100 Chinese berry pickers went on a 15-kilometre overnight march from Långsjöby outside of Storuman on Thursday to protest their salaries and conditions.

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.

Story continues below…

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 have however said that the minimum salary is insufficient, producing evidence that in some cases it is hardly enough to cover the money the workers have to shell out for things like plane tickets, housing and car rental.

TT/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

17:17 August 11, 2010 by NataBee
This sooooo has to STOP! These workers must STOP believing that they could earn more money overseas without knowing the native language and understanding the laws, and Swedish companies must STOP hiring seasonal workers from other countries to pay less and earn more.

Now this is the terrible, terrible outcome!
17:38 August 11, 2010 by La Figaro
This is an ANNUAL occurrence, liken it to the summer solstice.

I wonder what they will do next year, sue their team leaders?
22:50 August 11, 2010 by glamelixir
There must be something that I don't quite grasp here... they are earning 16.000 swedish crowns per month???

They want more than that? Why bringing people from Vietnam with the high unemployment rates that this country has. I spent all my summer surviving without a job and waiting for my master to start again. I could have done it willingly !!!
22:50 August 11, 2010 by tuerd1982
Every violation should be punish hardly. Make them never think about.
08:12 August 12, 2010 by Puffin

No they don't earn 16000 kronor per month - the lucky one will earn 1000-2000

No excuse for locking up the supervisors but - most of these guys are not educated and did not understand the contracts

- most are being charged 16000 in 'employer expenses' - if you add up the charges dotted over the contracts

- the contracts are not guaranteed - they are productivity based on picking 90kg or around 200lbs of wild blueberries per day

- the pickers had been led to believe that it would be like grape picking - working on a plantation picking fairly heavy fruits the size of grapes/cherries - rather than tiny wild forest blueberries that they have to hike around the forest to find for themselves

Unfortunately there are not so many ripe berries at the moment for picking in the forests - certaily impossible to find 200lbs per person per day - most have been sitting at the camp and it has dawned on them that they are already 10,000-15,000 kronors in DEBT to the gangmasters without any prospect of earning enough to repay
09:43 August 12, 2010 by LeoKinmann

Just like Puffin said, the entire berry-picking job is a scam.

in a related news, i mentioned that despite the contract states a monthly salary of 16kkr, it also says that you have to pay a fee to the employer get this contract. The fee consists of the flight ticket, food and loungding, which is like 90% of your nominal salary. In the end their employers pay very little to the workers. Not to mention the fee is usually paid first. So each berry picker arrives with massive debt to the company, only to reduce it through day-by-day hard labour with unrealistic goals. In the end if they get lucky they'll get rid of the debt and perhaps make some money. trust me, it's not a job you wanna have.
10:51 August 12, 2010 by Twiceshy
NataBee, don't be a fascist, go and be berry picker, if you don't want, let other people to do that job. There are crowd of jobs which domestic people don't want to work, so, stop with you shameful fascism. Seasonal workers don't need to know language.

In any case, I wanted to say that police one more time protected cheater/boss who wanted to exploit workers from Asia and they arrested workers who didn't become criminal when they were cheated than they demanded their rights. That is racism in Swedish institutions, boss is Swedish and therefore police don't touch him.
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