Thais Head for Blueberry Fields in Finland

The first batch of workers will depart on Saturday, while the second will leave next Tuesday. Most of the workers, 232 in these two batches, come from the Northeast.

The Labour Ministry yesterday held a training session for the workers to prepare them for life and work overseas.

Finland, where the blueberrypicking season runs from July to September, agreed to accept 2,000 workers from Thailand through seven employment agencies.

Chansak Promthong, a coordinator from one of the agencies, said the Thai workforce would be working in Finland for a total of 70 days, during which they would be required to work from 4am to 10pm every day.

“They will need to work hard but they will also be paid well,” he said.

Boontan Paengsaeng, one of the workers, said he expected to make about Bt160,000 to Bt170,000 from the trip, which cost him Bt67,000.

“Even after covering the expenses, I will still have a lump sum,” the 51yearold man from Chaiyaphum said.

Boontan said he had worked as a fruit picker in Sweden twice before, but both times he only managed to bring back Bt50,000.

“So, I decided to switch to Finland,” he said, adding that he had to pay taxes while working in Sweden, but that Finland had agreed not to collect taxes from him.

This year, Sweden has offered to recruit 3,500 fruit collectors from Thailand and is guaranteeing that each will earn at least Bt80,000.

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