For me it hits pretty close to home as I have two African friends who came here to Sweden a couple of years ago to work in and for this very industry. A couple of years ago, they told me about the miserable work conditions and living quarters where both men and women are forced to live in single room buildings out in the middle of nowhere. And while I love the idea of planting trees and creating forests, the conditions under which they both worked were unbearable. Heat coupled with intense humidity and constant bombardment of blood thirsty Mosquitos even out in the open. Keep in mind, these areas are wilderness areas up near or just below the Arctic Circle on the globe known for it's intense Mosquito swarms. Until I read this article and the news that has followed, I had no idea the amount of expense incurred by these folks in Cameroon & Nigeria where a fee for permit that is required by these workers to pay for the right to work, plus the huge expense of flight over to Sweden. The wages they are promised never pan out. Here is a quick English translation of a paragraph from the story that sparked outrage this week in the Swedish News in online paper called Aftonbladet.se:
In order to get the job they put into $6000 dollars on the contractor's private account so that he could help them with the management of the Migration Board. A sum that really should be $2 000. Then they borrowed up $25 000 on average to get a visa and the trip arranged.Once in Sweden, it was found after a while that the agreement they had, and that both unions and Migration Board approval would no longer apply. Now they got instead a chord of 22.8 cents per flat, which meant that even if they worked twelve hours a day six days a week did not even come up in a fraction of the promised income.
The sad story which I now realize I was only told the half of by my friends here, is eerily similar to what I have heard over the years with migrant workers coming up from Mexico and other Latin counties of Central and South America. Many go into debt by borrowing from family members who will pool their own money together, friends and/or Loan Sharks or conventional banks to make the journey for the prospect of a better life doing the work deemed unfit by the indigenous natives of the country they are traveling to. This forestry scandal is also the mirror image of another common Swedish scandal which plays out every year involving cheated migrant workers from Thailand and some other poor Asian countries where the promise of making it rich by picking berries in the Swedish woods attracts many victims. This same scenario plays out every year here in Sweden. Swedes love and want their flavourite fruit, Lingonberry or any other indigenous berry for jams and other preserves, but are unwilling like Americans to do what is considered menial low paying work. Hence these migrants are necessary. But Swedes will also turn a blind eye as many Americans do to the problem by viewing News Reports as trivial. This apathy is what keeps the problem alive and well. Below is just one example of the Thailand Berry Picking Scandal, but you can Google far more, or even a subject search even on the pages of http://www.thelocal.se/
The European Union assisted by the ever present ideologically driven Secular leaning Media here is fond of finger pointing around the globe at nations on the planet who don't live & subscribe by the same superior philosophy they believe they have invented in the form of governance. But the reality is that Europe is shackled to the same iron fist rule of the Kings of long ago. Yes, there is a different cloak and coat of arms for eye candy purposes, but underneath it's the same old control obsessed Empire or Kingdom business as usual. Yes the USA does have immigration issues and there continues to be political infighting on this as well. I'm always reminded though of how hard immigrants work, doing jobs which are viewed as beneath the natives and whose work has kept prices of many things lower and contributed to a Social System money-wise from which they will never derive any benefit when they retire. Fact is, they can't afford to ever retire. Take a look at the common things immigrants do below and a quote from an article on just how valuable they truly are.
|Credit: Jim Wilson, New York Times|
From the New York Times: "Illegal Immigrants Are Bolstering Social Security With Billions" Source:
"Since crossing the Mexican Border into the United States six years ago, Angel Martinez has done backbreaking work, harvesting asparagus, pruning grape vines and picking the ripe fruit. More recently, he has also washed trucks, often working as much as 70 hours a week, earning $8.50 to $12.75 an hour.
Not surprisingly, Mr Martinez, has not given much thought to Social Securit's long-term financial problems. But Mr Martinez, (who comes from the state of Oaxaca in southern Mexico and hiked for two days in the desert to enter the United States near Tecate, some 20 miles east of Tijuana), contributes more than most Americans to the solvency of the nation's public retirement system.
Last year, Mr. Martínez paid about $2,000 toward Social Security and $450 for Medicare through payroll taxes withheld from his wages. Yet unlike most Americans, who will receive some form of a public pension in retirement and will be eligible for Medicare as soon as they turn 65, Mr. Martínez is not entitled to benefits.He belongs to a big club. As the debate over Social Security heats up, the estimated seven million or so illegal immigrant workers in the United States are now providing the system with a subsidy of as much as $7 billion a year."
There is an old time classic movie that drove it all home for me about the challenges faced by migrants. The last time I watched the film, it made a huge impression on me in a way that it never had before. I think it was somewhere in the late 1980s when I watched the movie made from a classic John Steinbeck novel called "The Grapes of Wrath". The story is about the Great Depression of the 1930s, where 10s of 1000s of native born European Americans were out of any work and suddenly found themselves dirt poor. These bogus employment flyers by con artist hucksters appeared everywhere, suckering these people to move from the Central part of America out west to California where work was plentiful and life was easier. Sounds familiar to the tactics used by these Swedish Workers Marketing schemers who have conned the unfortunates and desperately poor people in a 3rd world nation of a better life that awaits them if they simply travel to the land of Socialist Utopia. Only they soon find what awaits them is more of a prison-like environment reminiscent of the old Communist Dystopia like some common Soviet Gulag setting up in a lost sub-arctic Boreal forest. What amazes me is that many think the world has come along way and has improved quality of life for all in some of the select elite countries. But this is often not the case. The old problems still exist, but they are sugar coated much better. The disgusting thing here in Sweden with these big corporations is they dismiss any responsible accountability simply by claiming ignorance and they are given a Free Pass.
|Greek Protestors wanting|
Immigrant Africans deported
|1930s promise of Jobs Poster|
I don't imagine the present day 3rd world posters created by bogus employment criminals are much different.
http://allehanda.se/start/harnosand/1.5511289--det-ar-ren-manniskohandel-?articleRenderMode=extra_comment TheLocal.Se: Swedish forestry firms in migrant labour scandal