Thai Ambassador Concerned about Thai Workers Going to Sweden

As berry picking season in Sweden is about to begin, many Thai workers are now packing up to leave Thailand to go to Sweden with high hopes of making a fortune.  H.E. Mr. Thanarat Thanaputti, Ambassador of Thailand to Sweden, has expressed concern about Thai workers going to Sweden because the weather this year is colder than previous years and might affect the yield of fruit.

“Thai workers should also be careful with the commission they deal with the recruiting agency as the yield of fruit this year might be less than previous years due to bad weather conditions in Sweden,” said Mr. Thanarat.

High commission rates and unreasonable amount of money that Thai workers have to pay to agencies before getting to work in Sweden is still a major problem. It is believed that the commission to agencies could be as high as 150,000 baht per person. 

In 2010, news thatThai workers didn’t get paid the agreed wage for picking berries in Sweden headlined many newspapers globally, leaving over 195 of the workers stuck in the cold of Sweden.

“We want to take care of all Thai workers who come here to work,” said Mr. Thanarat.

Lead by Mr. Surapon Petchwa, the officers at Thai consulate in Sweden recently visited one of the biggest berry farms in Umea, Sweden which is owned by Mr. Dennis Westerlund. Mr. Dennis showed the officers around the farm and the residential area for Thai workers.

According to Mr. Dennis, his recruiting agency in Thailand takes 75,000 baht fee from each Thai worker who comes to Sweden to pick berries. The fee includes expenses on documents processing, air tickets and transportation to the farm.  Labour Union in Sweden assures that the minimum wage for each worker is 17,000 krone or about 85,000 baht per month.

In the residential area, there is a big sign in Thai language stating the rules for Thai workers to follow. He revealed that there are three major problems from Thai workers in his farm which are drinking, gambling and selling the fruit to other companies, which is against the rules. He fired five Thai workers last year.

The blueberry is one of the most common plants in Sweden. It blossoms in May and June and is mature in July-August. It is a popular berry which is often used in pies, jam, tea, and soup.

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