Open Democracy: Asian migrant workers are exploited in Danish industries

The Nordic welfare states are often considered an exception to the phenomenon of exploitation of migrant workers in various industries across the world. According to Open Democracy, however, despite the benefits of the so-called ‘Danish model’, Asian migrant workers continue to be exploited in Danish Industries.

Open Democracy is an independent global media platform covering world affairs, ideas and culture. They seek to challenge power and encourage democratic debate.

The ‘Danish model is considered an excellent example of how a national labor market can be regulated to secure worker’s rights with minimum wages and working conditions agreed through tripartite negotiations between trade unions, employers’ associations, and the state.

Contracts under the Danish fast-track program are based on these collective agreements. Yet Open Democracy states an example of a group of Chinese migrants that received residence and work permits through the program but employers circumvented the rules to pay them much lower salaries. Reports also show that truck drivers from The Philippines were being severely underpaid in comparison to their Danish colleagues and offered poor housing in a makeshift camp which is a clear violation of Danish housing regulations. In the cleaning industry, other Danish cases of human trafficking and labor exploitation have now also come to light, where migrants, in particular Romanians, have experienced fraud and coercion.

The ‘Danish model’ is thought to have strong worker safeguards, but exploitation is still seeping in through the cracks, the media claims. The different constellations of citizenship, business models, fast-track programs, and degrees of dependency on the employer can lead to different forms of precarious working conditions and the exploitation of migrant workers. Open Democracy questions if the Danish model and the Danish welfare system are capable of ensuring the rights of migrant workers and if they are even interested in doing so.

Read the full article and more on the debate here

About Mette Larsen

ScandAsia Journalist • Scandinavian Publishing Co., Ltd. • Thailand

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