Asylum seekers used as car wash ‘slaves’

Asylum seekers and undocumented immigrants are being treated like slaves and paid far less than the legal minimum wage at car washes around the country, according to the police.

An investigation by Sveriges Radio (SR) has revealed that the trend of using people without official papers in Sweden is becoming more and more widespread across the country. These people are being paid very low wages and are subjected to appalling conditions, according to the report.

“This is a new phenomenon,” Jerk Wiberg, head of the border Police in Stockholm, told the “Kaliber” programme.

The chance to exploit cheap labour, where workers are apparently often earning as little as 20 kronor ($3) per hour, has seen dozens of car washes spring up over the country in recent years, with a subsequent rise in arrests by the police.

“Last year we did not carry out a single raid at a car wash. This year we have made 23,” added Wiberg.

In the Stockholm area, half of the raids carried by police uncovered illegal immigrants, while similar incidents have also been reported in Gothenburg and Malmö.

Police found that in many cases, conditions were harsh for the washers, who often have to work 10-12 hour days, earning no more than 30 kronor hourly in the process. In many cases, the workers are living on the premises in slave-like conditions, the radio programme claims.

“People in these car washes are working under conditions that amount to pure human trafficking, ” added Conny Svensson at the Gothenburg tax office.

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