Swedish firms exploiting labour migrants: report

Swedish firms exploiting labour migrants: report
Hotel & Restaurant Workers Union Chairwoman Ella Niia in a file photo
Swedish companies are exploiting labour migration legislation, with work permits being sold for up to 30,000 kronor ($4,560) and either non-existent or poorly paid jobs offered in return.

The money is then stolen by the business owners, according to a report in the Dagens Nyheter (DN) daily on Friday.

Sweden’s Hotel & Restaurant Workers Union (Hotell och Restaurang Facket – HRF) argues that an under-class labour force is being created in Sweden, with low pay and non-existent job security.

“We come into contact with people who work 12 hours a day, seven days per week, often on monthly salaries of 2,000-3,000 kronor,” said HRF Chairwoman Ella Niia in statement on its website.

Niia continued to say that when exploited workers complain at the conditions under which they are working, they risk losing their work permits.

“If they protest or go to the unions they are then sacked and lose their right to reside in Sweden. The system which has been built up by the government means that it is the employer who in principle decides if you get to stay or not,” she said.

“Who would then protest against poor working conditions or pay that does not arrive?”

Ingemo Melin Olsson at Stockholm border police, explained to DN that the law opening up labour migration to Sweden invites abuse by unscrupulous business people, arguing that labour migration is the next major area of trafficking.

“There are companies that use the fact that people are so desperate that they are prepared to work 15 hours a day, more of less free, to perhaps get a permanent residence permit four years later,” she said.

Migration Minister Tobias Billström confirmed that he takes the information seriously and has summoned officials from the Migration Board (Migrationsverket) to inform him about the situation.

“I plan to call together labour market representatives to to hear how they see the situation,” Billström said.

He explained that the government’s position is that labour market immigration is needed and that the Migration Board should handle the applications.

“Sham employment should be combated, but the need for labour is going to grow. The system’s foundation is good,” Billström said.

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