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'Lazy' Romanian berry pickers in wage protest

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'Lazy' Romanian berry pickers in wage protest
10:02 CEST+02:00
A group of Romanian berry pickers staged a protest on Wednesday, arguing that have been brought to Sweden on false premises and after their employer in Värmland in western Sweden rejected their claims and accused them of being "lazy".

The dispute centres around pay and conditions with the group of around 100 Romanians claiming that they were promised €60 ($86) if they picked 50 kilogrammes of berries per day, according to a report in the local nwt.se news site.

They argue that the conditions presented to them after having paid €300 to come to Sweden were changed to €50 for a daily haul of 70 kilogrammes and after a weekend averaging only 20 kilogrammes per day, the pickers decided to congregate in Munkfors to express their dismay.

"There are no blueberries so why have they called for us to come," the group's spokesperson told nwt.se.

This claim is however rejected by Mika Riikonen, the owner of Naturbemanning och Brygg AB, who claims that the Romanian berry pickers are the only group that has struggled to find berries.

Riikonen argued that the group of Thai berry pickers average 215 kilos per day and claimed that the Romanians were given the wrong information in their home country.

"And they are lazy bums quite frankly," he told the newspaper.

The group's protest in Munkfors attracted the interest of the local police and the berry pickers appealed to the officers for help in their plight, but were told that as nothing criminal had occurred there was no case to answer.

Naturbemanning och Brygg AB plans to contact the Romanian embassy on Thursday as well as the Kommunal union and on Friday it is hoped that the protesters will get their wish to return home.

"Then we will get new ones from the same agency. But this time I have asked them to check their criminal records first," Mika Riikonen said.

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