• Sweden's news in English

Thai berry pickers head home empty-handed

TT/The Local · 3 Oct 2010, 08:18

Published: 03 Oct 2010 08:18 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

The majority of the 160 Thai people who have spent the past two months working for the firm have decided to give up their fight to be paid for their work, having received only 6,000 kronor ($894).

"38 Thais have chosen to stay to try to get their salaries," said Dan Andersson at Umeå police on Saturday evening.

When back in Thailand the berry pickers face an uncertain future, with many having borrowed substantial sums to travel to Sweden for the season.

"They are in dire straits. The embassy is seeing to it that they get home but they have been fooled out of everything they own," said interpreter Tomas Hasser to local newspaper Västerbottens Kuriren.

The atmosphere among the berry pickers became heated at times with police in attendance.

Most of the berry pickers will fly out to Thailand on Sunday, while the remaining few are booked on flights on October 11th.

The CEO of Lömsjö Bär AB, Ari Hallikanen, is meanwhile suspected of financial crimes after having allegedly emptied the firm of its cash and fled Sweden. No official criminal investigation has however yet been opened against him or chairperson Olle Andersson regarding Åsele.

Story continues below…

Hallikanen has a series of bankruptcies behind him, and in 2007 faced charges of assault involving berry pickers in Hälsingland.

Lömsjö Bär was the firm which was involved in a highly publicised fight in Särna in the summer involving Vietnamese berry pickers. The argument led to the arrest of several berry pickers after they locked in their supervisors.

TT/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

09:10 October 3, 2010 by Nemesis
This is disgraceful.

For all Swedes bleating about how fair there society is, there is a constant stream of abuse of workers.

Sweden really needs to start with a minimum wage and guarentee it.
09:12 October 3, 2010 by StockholmSam
Boy, I hope they catch Ari Hallikanen and lock him away for a long time.
09:28 October 3, 2010 by hjoian
as usual, it wont be a surprise if this asrehole Hallikanen gets away with it, the guy should be put away in a cell with big bubba. There is too much abuse of foreign workers in Sweden......sadly Swedes dont seem to care...
09:32 October 3, 2010 by Puffin
This what some of said would happen since August

All the people that frequented the Berry threads saying what a wonderful job it was for these guys and how they would like these jobs .....

The Dalarna berry pickers suffered a worse fate - most have ended up owing the berry company abou $5000 dollars for *expenses*
10:21 October 3, 2010 by Kaethar
@Nemisis: Sweden won't set a minimum wage because it's up to the unions to negotiate wages. I think the best solution would be to ban foreigners from doing seasonal work. Seasonal work used to be done by youths and unemployed people who knew their rights and wouldn't let themselves be taken advantage of.
10:52 October 3, 2010 by Marko2010S
After reading this article, I remembered a Hadith when prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) instructs to pay the labor salary before their perspiration dries.

It is just amazing how prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) knows humans'right since over 1450 years, while some Swedes in 2010 are eating the poors people's money.

P.S. For those who might get pissed because I mentioned things about my religion, I really don't mean to bother, but I just couldn't help myself.
11:01 October 3, 2010 by Nemesis
@ Kaethar

Union leaders get high salaries and unionised work places are mostly closed of to non Swedish workers.

Unions in Sweden and the Swedish are quite happy for non union workers to be abused. That is the problem.

A minimum wage will help the lowest earners in society, the majority of whom are not members of unions.
11:15 October 3, 2010 by dizzy09
@ Kaethar

u sound like one of them SD.wake up dude!!!no swedish youth is gonna do these kind of back breaking minimum paying job.u need to see the size of some of these farms b4 u open ur trap.
12:51 October 3, 2010 by diegoveggie
at least they got to experience the rich swedish culture
14:09 October 3, 2010 by markusd
@Nemesis, "A minimum wage will help the lowest earners in society, the majority of whom are not members of unions."

Unfortunately, that's not necessarily true. A minimum wage really only helps those who are making less than their true market value. They will get a bump up in pay but those whose job is worth less than the minimum wage often lose their jobs. This is especially true of younger, uneducated workers who don't yet have the skills to justify higher wages. There is another article here on the Local stating that 29% of young Swedes are unemployed. If businesses already don't want to employ these kids at current rates then increasing the cost of hiring them with a minimum wage will only make the problem worse.

Here is an interesting article from the NYTimes on the effects of the minimum wage on poor workers in S. Africa: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/27/world/africa/27safrica.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1

Regarding the Thai berry pickers, it sounds like the solution is a clear, enforceable contract where either their wages are put into an escrow account or paid more frequently, like immediately after the work is done. Finding this Ari Hallikanen P.O.S. and hanging him up by his thumbs wouldn't hurt either.
16:17 October 3, 2010 by pathfinder.uppsala
What about the Berry pickers from Bangladesh??

Does anybody know where are they now or which part of Sweden or in which European country they have fled??

Does the government has any control in their movement??

Does anybody know anything??

I just don't believe they went home just like that !!
16:59 October 3, 2010 by Puffin
There WAS a minum wage - but the minimum wage doesn't help when the company owner does a runner with all the money he's made

The workers were forced to borrow 20,000 kronor in Thailand to pay for their travel and living expenses in Sweden - but were promised decent salaries of 16,000 per month

Now all they have is 20,000 kronor i debt at 20% interest
17:06 October 3, 2010 by Decedo
@Diegoveggie - OMG, that's so true

$10 says that this asrehole Hallikanen will get councelling for 'emotional distress', and be back in business (ripping off third world workers) next year.
17:21 October 3, 2010 by mikewhite
In good ol' capitalist UK (where there is a min wage …) he would already have been disqualified from running a business.
17:48 October 3, 2010 by Renfeh Hguh
given the high unemployment numbers it is joke that Sweden needs to import foreign labour to do this, but of course berry picking happens during summer time and even the unemployed deserve summer off for holidays ;)
18:58 October 3, 2010 by izbz

Wonder what has Mohammad and religion got to do with berries picker and Sweden.....By the way Buddhism and Christianity teaches that too.

Sometime back someone commented being jobless and wouldn't even mind working as berry picker making about 14000 to 16000. Whoever you are, are you sure you still want to work as one??????
19:20 October 3, 2010 by Dave N
Marco - seeing that your beloved Mohammad had about 70 slaves he would not have had any problem at all with Hallikanan not paying them anything.

Islam and Human Rights are complete strangers, by the way. That's why no Muslim country has signed the 1948 UN Convention on Human Rights.
22:57 October 3, 2010 by pathfinder.uppsala

You know what?

you guys don't believe what u say !!

that's why we don't see the proper practice of human rights in any Muslim majority country(i don't believe in the concept of Muslim or Islamic country coz that is meaningless).

stop blaming the Swedish.......if you wanna live a Swedish life then take it as it...don't blame us !!

Take it or leave it !!

Please go back to ur middle east(purhaps) or any other place u came from and practice your own religion there and make that place better so that even Europeans and Americans go there for job and stay !!

I have information that people came from Bangladesh was recruited by some Bangladeshi born Swedish personnel...so what do u say? they are Muslim...and according to u they have never read the messages of the holly prophet??why don't they according to the religion??

there is nothing to do with religion,.....it's the people who just don't have any human qualities !!

so please stop making excuses....and don't blame anyone with any vague concept !! be practical !!
23:36 October 3, 2010 by Kaethar
@dizzy09: Yes they will as they have always done before they started bringing in seasonal foreign workers. What these scam companies demand are outrageous wages for outrageous working hours. Encouraging this type of exploitation of workers is not the way to go. Swedes would refuse to work such hours for such pay thereby forcing the employers to up the wages and shorten the working hours. :)

Sweden needs arbetskraftsinvandring. Qualified people to work in different fields - permanent job placings that are monitored by unions even if not all workers are members of the unions. Bringing in foreigners for seasonal temporary work is just asking for trouble.
00:07 October 4, 2010 by mikewhite
So I trust all the I*e* goods manufactured at low cost in the far east are made by unionised workers …
08:25 October 4, 2010 by izbz

What human rights are you taking about? Human rights for only muslim man, can marry 5 wives, treat women like servants and dirt? Insisting women to cover up themselves as ninjas? Don't tell me your religion require that!!!!! I came from Malaysia( multiculture country) but majority muslim, have alot of muslim friends, man and women. Which woman, muslim or not don't want to look pretty? which one of them won't appreciate when a man admire their beauty? But all cover up????? Of course since you are a muslim man and you ask them, they will tell you they don't mind. Me a non muslim have asked alot of my female muslim friends. they told me it is f##king uncomfortable and warm, some dress this way because of their man or their family.

You seems to be very unhappy with the western world, maybe you have inferior complex. do yourself a favour, go back to your country or join the Talibans if you think it ca make yourself useful instead of BLA BLA
16:56 October 4, 2010 by J Jack
How about berry picking for all those Swedes bleating about unemployment. Don't want to get your hands dirty?
22:42 October 4, 2010 by Tdye

you know that Sweden is one of the most atheist country's in the world right? haha

so you keep preaching your garbage about muhamad or what ever his name is to a lot of folks that dont care..so screw muhamad..btw SWEDES...loved the cartoons y'all did it was great!

about the berry pickers...sucks that happened to them but you take that chance when you leave your home land for some other land in hopes of getting rich or making a lot of money...however everyone shouldn't blame Sweden for the acts of one company or even many companys..Us Americans have been getting screwed for many years you just get used to it
Today's headlines
Here's how slow Sweden's high-speed trains are getting
A Swedish SJX2000 high speed train. Photo: Tomas Oneborg/SvD/TT

The high-speed rail journey between the three biggest Swedish cities is about to get longer.

The Local List
12 Swedish words with just awesome literal translations
A filthy-minded lobster, i.e. a snuskhummer. Photo: Gorm Kallestad/NTB scanpix/TT

One of our favourite things about the Swedish language is its wonderful compound words, which range from being utterly bizarre to making perfect sense.

US election
Donald Trump won't get new Ericsson head's vote
Trump pictured at a campaign rally in Florida. Photo: Evan Vucci/AP

The new Swedish-American boss of telecoms giant Ericsson has revealed he will not vote for the Republican nominee in the forthcoming US presidential election.

Swedes named fourth most gender equal in the world
A file photo of men and women pushing prams in Stockholm. Photo: Claudio Bresciani/TT

Sweden has closed 81 percent of its overall gender gap according to the World Economic Forum.

Sweden: Russian warships in the Baltic 'worrying'
Swedish Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist. Photo: Vilhelm Stokstad/TT

Two Russian warships equipped with long-range missiles have entered the Baltic Sea after passing Denmark.

Why businesses are worried about Sweden's drone ban
A drone filming in Stockholm. Photo: Pontus Lundahl/TT

The Local investigates what Sweden's new drone ban could mean for businesses in the country.

This is the new top boss of Swedish Ericsson
Börje Ekholm. Photo: Magnus Hjalmarson Neideman/SvD/TT

Telecoms giant Ericsson has appointed a new CEO after a turbulent year for the company.

These are Sweden's best universities: ranking
A new university ranking has been released. Photo: Cecilia Larsson Lantz/Imagebank.sweden.se

At least according to this global ranking, which picks 12 Swedish universities among the top-1000.

Swedish pharmacies restrict paracetamol sales for teens
The move is intended to cut paracetamol overdoses. Photo: Nora Lorek/TT

Sweden's pharmacies are banning teens under 18 from buying more than one pack of pills at a time.

Rwandan genocide suspect held in Sweden
A memorial centre in Kigali, Rwanda. Photo: Ben Curtis/AP

A man has been arrested in Sweden suspected of involvement in the 1994 Rwandan genocide which claimed 800,000 lives.

Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Sweden cuts 2016 refugee forecast
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Is Game of Thrones coming to Sweden?
Property of the week: Kungsholmen, Stockholm
Blog updates

6 October

10 useful hjälpverb (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hej! I think the so-called “hjalpverb” (auxiliary verbs in English) are a good way to get…" READ »


8 July

Editor’s blog, July 8th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hej readers, It has, as always, been a bizarre, serious and hilarious week in Sweden. You…" READ »

Sponsored Article
This is Malmö: Football capital of Sweden
Will Swedes soon be looking for fairtrade porn?
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
The Local Voices
'I simply don’t believe in nationality'
Why we're convinced Game of Thrones is based on Sweden
People-watching: October 21st-23rd
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
Fury at plans that 'threaten the IB's survival' in Sweden
Sponsored Article
Swedish for programmers: 'It changed my life'
Analysis & Opinion
Are we just going to let half the country die?
Angry elk chases Swede up a lamp post
Sponsored Article
Top 7 tips to help you learn Swedish
The Local Voices
'Alienation in Sweden feels better: I find myself a stranger among scores of aliens'
Sponsored Article
‘Extremism can't be defeated on the battlefield alone’
People-watching: October 20th
The Local Voices
A layover at Qatar airport brought this Swedish-Kenyan couple together - now they're heading for marriage
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Swede punches clown that scared his grandmother
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
Fans throw flares and enter pitch in Swedish football riot
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
Could Swedish blood test solve 'Making a Murderer'?
Sponsored Article
One expat's strategy for making friends in Stockholm
Swedish school to build gender neutral changing room
Sponsored Article
Nordic fashion in focus at Stockholm University
People-watching: October 14th-16th
Man in Sweden assaulted by clowns with broken bottle
Nobel Prize 2016: Literature
Watch the man who discovered Bob Dylan react to his Nobel Prize win
Record numbers emigrating from Sweden
People-watching: October 12th
The Local Voices
'Swedish startups should embrace newcomers' talents - there's nothing to fear'
How far right are the Sweden Democrats?
Property of the week: Triangeln, Malmö
The Local Voices
Syria's White Helmets: The Nobel Peace Prize would have meant a lot, but pulling a child from rubble is the greatest reward
jobs available