Many Thai berry pickers in Sweden face huge debts

Thais who go to Sweden to work as berry-pickers are being mistreated and sometimes return with debts they have to pay for the rest of their lives, according to a Swedish newspaper report.

The organisation Thai Labor Campaign confirms that the use of Thai laborers in Sweden is a form of human trafficking, ‘Aftonbladet’ says.

The Thai Government encourages people to work abroad, and authorities cooperate closely with unscrupulous recruitment agencies, says the report.

”Sweden is number two on our blacklist of countries where Thai guest workers have big problems. Israel is on top and Libya comes third,” says Patchanee Kumnak, Project Manager at the TLC.

Only four out of every 10 Thai berry pickers achieve a profit after months of hard work and some among the rest find themselves saddled with heavy debts.

About 6000 Thais are recruited to pick berries in Sweden each year. Between 75,000 and 100,000 Thais go abroad to work annually, writes the author, Jan Kellerman.

Recruiters from Swedish agencies visit Isarn region of Thailand, where many people are subsistence rice farmers, and entice them to sign on with promises while collecting $1100 themselves for each signature.

Accommodation, transport and food have to be paid by the pickers and it can prove to be an astronomical sum for a Thai rice farmer – especially as some employers default on paying them salaries.

Source: Phuket Wan


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