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Berry pickers had invalid contract: Swedish union

TT/The Local · 25 Oct 2010, 11:00

Published: 25 Oct 2010 11:00 GMT+02:00

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The Swedish Municipal Workers’ Union (Kommunal) has asserted that the workers should never have made the trip from Vietnam in the first place.

The workers’ contract, which was approved by the Swedish Migration Board (Migrationsverket), was also supposed to be approved by the union.

With respect to the berry pickers from Vietnam, the union approved an agreement which mandated that the companies operating Swedish berry farms would ensure workers received at least 17,730 kronor ($2,700) from the Vietnamese staffing company that arranged for the them to come to Sweden, Sveriges Radio (SR) reports.

But the union never had a chance to see the agreement between the staff company and the Vietnamese workers which includes a clause stating that the minimum salary would only be paid if the workers picked at least 95 kilogrammes of lingonberries or 60 kilogrammes of blueberries per day.

According to the union, the contract from the Vietnamese staffing company is invalid, despite the fact that it was approved by Swedish migration authorities.

The Migration Board refused to comment on whether or not it’s allowed to tie berry pickers’ salaries to how many berries they pick.

While several of the berry pickers have returned to Vietnam empty handed, more than 150 remain in Europe because of the huge debts the incurred in making the trip to Sweden last summer, instead opting to remain in Europe and continue working in hopes of earning enough to pay back their debts.

Story continues below…

Most still owe 15,000 to 25,000 kronor, which is the equivalent of several years’ pay in Vietnam, according to SR.

TT/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

11:41 October 25, 2010 by byke
Sounds like everyone is finding a claus to blame someone else.

I thought slavery was outlawed a couple hundred years back ......
12:21 October 25, 2010 by Nemesis
@ Byke,

Slavery in Sweden was renamed, not banned. It is now called Praktik.

There is a simple solution to ths.

Bring in a minimum wage. Enforce it by law, including jail terms for employers who pay below minimum wage.

That way the lowest paid workers who are usually never members of unions in Sweden will have at least a take home pay they can get a basic living on.
13:59 October 25, 2010 by krow
lol @ Nemesis. Cant help laughing at that word Praktik as the new form of slavery.
14:27 October 25, 2010 by ericrufinosiah
The Swedish Government should have taken the lead in applying a " humanitarian

help clause " for the 290 Vietnamese Berry Pickers who had come over to Sweden

to work as berry pickers.Please bare in mind that they are not 17 - 18 years old

refugees,now the Swedish Government must show to the civilised world that

actions had been taken to compensate the 290 Vietnamese workers and if I am

the PM of Sweden I would definitely have taken in the 290 Vietnamese as citizens

with full social welfare benefits,than to welcome the 17-18 years refugees.
14:27 October 25, 2010 by Åskar

Sweden doesn't work like that. We have a long tradition of letting employers and employees take care of their own business without the state barging in.
14:50 October 25, 2010 by ronneby
Migrationsverket is a failure..

They make mistakes and causes problems which the people have to live with..

The loss and distress caused by them would never be compensated, not particularly in this case alone..but i can give some more exapmles..

They even donot acknowledge what they have done..
18:02 October 25, 2010 by riose
Ok, so 300 people working for a summer (2 months), each making 30.000:- makes a minimum of 9.000.000:-

Who has the money?
18:05 October 25, 2010 by SilverBattleAxe
Worker's slaries do not need to be tied to the amount of work that they do. Employers can easily abuse this type of work contract by setting the level of productivity to such a high level that workers never get paid because the work load is too high to achieve. That was probably intention here. Just pay the workers a set wage per hour. If a worker can't achieve an employer's desired level of productivity then the worker can just be sent home with pay equl to the hours they have worked. This just sounds like slavery to me.
19:47 October 25, 2010 by pantheratigris
@ byke

Slavery was never abolished nor it ever will. It simply keeps on taking a different form to match the sophistication of the age...
21:14 October 25, 2010 by Nemesis
@ Åskar

You also had a tradtion of sterilising Sammi. I suppose you will defend that as well.

There needs to be a minimum wage in Sweden to help stop some of the abuses of the low paid in Sweden.

As for your statement that the state does not butt in. The Swedish state butts into everything.
21:43 October 25, 2010 by hjoian
well said Andrea. Goverment sticks its nose into everything but does not want to take any responsibility for its mistakes. A legal minimum wage is not a bad thing,seems to work in the rest of Europe,but as always, Sweden does not always want to stick with EU law.
06:56 October 27, 2010 by för30årseden
Or, don't allow ANY immigrants and allow businesses to shut down if they won't pay an attractive enough wage to bring in Swedes. Why should employers be guaranteed a right to pay people awful wages. As Anwar Sadat remarked: "Those who invented the Law of Supply and Demand have no right to complain when it works against their interests."

There are unemployed people in Sweden. Are the Swedish unemployed too good to work? (Or should only darker skinned people do that? -- How egalitarian!) Or are they too lazy? Either way, something is wrong. The welfare state was supposedly there to protect the unfortunate -- not the indolent.
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