Pattaya Daily News

04 October 2010 :: 15:10:37 pm 41871

160 Thai Berry Pickers Duped by Swedish Employers

Approximately 135 Thai berry pickers working in Sweden’s northern region of Asele left the country on Sunday, returning to Thailand having not been paid for two month’s worth labour for employers Lömjsö Bär.
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Sweden, the 4th of October 2010: The large majority of the 160 Thai nationals employed to pick berries for the firm have decided to give up a fight to seek payment for their services rendered, most having received only US$894 for the 2 months work.

Lömsjö Bär was the firm, which was involved, in a highly publicised fight in Särna in the summer involving Vietnamese berry pickers. The argument led to the arrest of several berry pickers after they locked in their supervisors.

Reportedly, 38 of the now unemployed and stranded workers have chosen to remain and fight for their wages, while the remaining are currently seeking assistance from the Thai Embassy in returning home.

At present, CEO of Lömsjö Bär AB, Ari Hallikanen, is suspected of financial crimes after having been found to empty the company accounts of all cash assets before fleeing the country. Authorities have not revealed whether an official criminal investigation has been started over Mr. Hallikanen’s or chairperson Olle Anderssons dealings.

Hallikanen has a record of bankruptcies behind him, and in 2007 faced charges of assault involving several berry pickers working for the company in Hälsingland. Unconfirmed reports suggest that the accused may have fled Sweden for Thailand.

Most of the workers had taken out significant loans in Thailand to support their transportation and living in Sweden during the berry picking season, with uncertain futures ahead for those returning with little or no qualifications.

“They are in dire straits. The embassy is seeing to it that they get home but they have been fooled out of everything they own,” said interpreter Tomas Hasser to local newspaper.

It is expected that most of the workers will have landed in Thailand on Monday, while the remaining few have been booked on flights for the 11th of October.

Reporter : John Weston   Photo : Internet   Category : Thailand News

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