Sweden: Forced Labour for Cameroonian Migrant Workers

Swedish forestry companies have lured workers from Cameroon into Sweden with false promises of pay and working conditions. According to a programme on Swedish TV last week, Swedish forestry giants SCA and Holmen hire agents to recruit migrant workers from Cameroon.

Before arriving in Sweden, the migrant workers had been promised a monthly salary of 18 500 SEK, plus 6000 SEK in per diems. Upon arrival the deal changed and it was no longer a monthly salary but instead paid at a piece rate of 0.22 SEK. To get close to the monthly pay that they had been promised, they then had to work day and night and plant about 3500 new trees a day – which is about double the amount of trees that an experienced worker is capable of planting a day.

“These contracts are pure forced labour contracts,” wrote LO Sweden in their statement from last Friday.

“We are now in negotiations with the employers, and SLA (the employer) has promised to pay according to the contracts. We are hopeful this will be resolved within a few weeks,” said Per-Olof Sjöö, the President of the union GS who is representing the forestry workers in Sweden.

“It is wrong to let employers handle the system of migration on their own,” said Torbjörn Johansson of LO Sweden. “The deregulations from four years ago are a miserable muck-up. During these years we have been able to note upsetting cases of exploitation, falsifying and bad conditions while the minister in charge of migration, Tobias Billström, keeps stating that no adjustments to the law are needed.”

Forced labour takes places all over the world – in developed as well as developing countries.
Forced labour is any work or service performed against a person’s will under the threat of punishment. More than 12.3 million people are in forced labour today.

“It is unacceptable to exploit migrant workers,” said Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary. “Migrant workers have human and labour rights, just like any other worker.”

See LO Statement