The Department of Employment in Thailand is to work with Finland and Sweden to set quotas for the number of Thai berry pickers permitted to enter both countries next year, to avoid an excess of workers competing with each other, rep0rted Bangkok Post.
The department’s director-general Pravit Kiangphol said the initiative aims to prevent a repeat of the situation this year in which a group of about 50 Thai berry pickers working in Saarijarvi, eastern Finland, filed a criminal complaint against their employer.
The berry pickers accused the firm of luring them to work abroad without providing full information about the amount they would earn, which led them to borrow money they would be unable to pay back.
Mr Pravit said the department would like to know the exact numbers of required workers so it could help control the supply of staff, and prospective berry pickers would be able to weigh the cost of making a trip and their potential earnings before deciding whether or not to go.
In 2013, a total of 6,100 Thai berry pickers went to work in Sweden through broker firms that helped them secure visas from the Swedish embassy for around 78,000 baht per head. Many of the workers borrowed from banks to pay for their transport abroad, while money is deducted from their wages to pay for the visas.
In total, 240 workers returned to Thailand this year, citing the fact they were unhappy because they did not get as much money as indicated in employment contracts.
Mr Pravit said the department has informed employers to pay the full amount promised in contracts, or face being sued under the 1998 Labour Protection Act.
In Finland, 3,000 Thai berry pickers traveled to work there on tourist visas. They spent around 88,000 baht each and 50 of them are protesting that their employers have failed to pay them enough. The department is in the process of trying to help to solve the problem.