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‘Lazy’ Romanian berry pickers in wage protest

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".

'Lazy' Romanian berry pickers in wage protest

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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The Local’s Swedish film of the month: The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window And Disappeared

Film writer Peter Larkin reviews 'The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window And Disappeared' (2013), directed by Felix Herngren.

The Local's Swedish film of the month: The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window And Disappeared
Robert Gustafsson and Iwar Wiklander as the character Julius in 'The 100-year-old man...' Photo: Music Box Films

The film is a mixture of farce; it is a fantasy about an explosives expert who worked for political leaders from Franco to Stalin. Now on his 100th birthday, Allan (Robert Gustafsson) escapes his nursing home to go an adventure.

The film contains a rogue hippie, bikers, an English gangster and Benny (David Wiberg) who struggles to settle with a career choice so he constantly studies at universities. The film’s director Felix Herngren uses a sort of collective montage to show Allan at various periods in history.

READ ALSO: Seven novels that will change the way you view Sweden

Gunilla (Mia Skäringer) is introduced as the ex-wife of one of the biker gang, she falls for Benny. She owns an elephant which brings a gag when the elephant saves the day. Herngren from Jonas Jonasson's 2009 novel has made a film essentially about two men Allan and Benny: Allan has lived and in a sense achieved everything he wanted, whereas Benny feels afraid to make even the first step.

Gustafsson, aged 47 at the time of filming, is heavily made up to look 100. His strongest scenes are as a younger man when he has these fantastic one-liners about how men shouldn’t dance.


Felix Herngren and Robert Gustafsson at the premiere. Photo: Erik Mårtensson/TT

English film critic Mark Kermode complained about the film’s lack of translation through Swedish humour for a British audience. I have lived in Sweden for a year and I still feel that I would connect with this film even I had not ever stepped foot in the country.

Peter Larkin is an Irish film writer currently based in Sweden. Read his blog here.