Thai Berry Pickers Call for Regulations

Worker groups say a berry picker quota is needed to ensure Thais do not face fierce competition for jobs when they get to Sweden.

Thai workers who went to pick berries in Sweden last year complained they had to compete for jobs not only among themselves but with Chinese, Russian and Polish workers, writes Bangkok Post.

The workers were upset when they were unable to find work. They were deep in debt from taking out loans to pay for their travel and other expenses to go to Sweden.

Last year, 5,911 Thai workers were allowed into Sweden as berry pickers.

Employment Department director Jirasak Sukonthachart said he expected about 5,000 people to be allowed this year when the berry picking season starts this month.

It has been found that many of the workers are relatives of Thai women who have married Swedish men. Most workers secured jobs through brokers.

Labour Minister Chalermchai Sri-on said Thai labourers will get better protection as the government has ordered job brokers to guarantee a minimum wage of 75,000 baht a month for each worker. If the pickers’ income does not reach that amount, their employers in Sweden must pay the difference, Mr Chalermchai said.

However, a labour brokerage representative who requested anonymity questioned whether the wage guarantee will be successful as workers’ income is determined by the number of berries picked and market prices for the fruit.

The wage guarantee measure was mooted after complaints by many pickers over unfair employment contracts. Many who paid nearly 100,000 baht for travel and other expenses claim they were promised well-paid jobs, but many returned home almost empty-handed.


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