Minister defends labour migration law

Sweden's minister for migration has denied claims by a Swedish umbrella union organisation that unscrupulous companies are abusing new rules that have eased the migration of foreign workers.

Minister defends labour migration law

The chairwoman of Swedish union organisation LO, Wanja Lundby-Wedin, has demanded the previous regulations governing labour migration be restored, either under the direction of the Swedish Public Employment Service (Arbetsförmedlingen) or the Swedish National Migration Board (Migrationsverket).

However, after meeting with labour market partners, Migration Minister Tobias Billström, who has been dogged by criticism over the law over the last two weeks, insisted on Tuesday that he will not change the current law.

“What we can discuss are the terms, but not who makes the decision,” said Billström.

The ruling Swedish government undertook reforms in 2008 over laws governing labour migration, granting companies more leeway in decisions over the issuance of Swedish work permits.

The labour market scrutiny involves allowing decisions to be made at the agency level to determine how much manpower is needed in the country.

Billström acknowledged that problems do exist under the reforms.

“Abusive employers have always existed and always will exist. It has nothing to do with the labour laws,” he said.

The government will now look into what can be done, Billström added.

“It is the enforcement of the law that is important,” he said.

Other trade union confederations have criticised the law, saying that it makes it easier for unscrupulous employees to exploit migrant workers.

Last week, Swedish trade union Unionen alleged that the law facilitates allowing Ericsson and other IT companies to attract and train foreign workers in Sweden so they can perform similar tasks in the home countries, resulting in the disappearance of Swedish jobs.

Unions have previously criticised the law for a rise in abuses against low-skilled workers such as berry pickers, the most common occupational group that receives work permits for Sweden, and other agricultural workers.

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‘Ask Obama about Gitmo and labour’: opposition

Social Democrat leader Stefan Löfven has said the government must address the US-run prison Guantanamo Bay prison during the upcoming visit to Sweden by US President Barack Obama.

'Ask Obama about Gitmo and labour': opposition

“We of course have questions about Guantanamo and privacy questions following Snowden,” Löfven told the TT news agency. “These are very important questions that should be discussed between countries that have good relations.”

While the government announced on Thursday that it would not release any further details of Obama’s upcoming visit at present, Swedish political scientist Jan Joel Andersson told The Local this week that it was unlikely that the prison camp on the US Naval Base in Cuba commonly referred to as “Gitmo” would be discussed, although Stockholm does have human rights concerns concerning the US.

Löfven, meanwhile, also took the opportunity to praise the the US president for his focus on restoring American industry, and spurring the growth in employment.

“He talks about re-industrializing the US, creating jobs and hope for the future,” Löfven said. “Ahead of the G20 meeting, it is important to have a strategy for jobs creation and to make sure that the global economic benefits everyone, not like it is today with big imbalances.”

Löfven said the Swedish model, based on the Saltsjöbaden Deal penned in 1938 between employers and trade unions, could serve as inspiration for an international agreement between workers and capital owners.

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“It would be great if Obama could put on the yellow jersey in this discussion,” Löfven said, urging the Swedish prime minister not to shy away from the topic on the American stop-over in Stockholm in September.

TT/The Local/at

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