LO demands improved protection for immigrant labour

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The Swedish Minister for Migration and Asylum Policy has invited the social partners to discuss the rules concerning labour immigration to Sweden. In order to prevent exploitation, LO urges the Minister to make a number of amendments to the rules.
LO President Wanja Lundby-Wedin comments on the existing rules and presents LO's demands.

· Two years after the government's introduction of the new rules for labour immigration, there are many testimonies of ongoing exploitation of non-resident labour in Sweden. The government has created a system that puts non-resident workers in an unbearable position, in which they are dependent on their employers and become vulnerable to exploitation.

LO urges the Minister to make the following amendments to the rules without delay.

· Agency-based labour market tests, in which the social partners can exert influence, must be reintroduced. These tests also involve an explicit task for the government agency to assess and monitor the reliability of the employer and the employment offer. What is also important is that labour immigration must not be concentrated to sectors which have difficulties in recruiting national labour, due to low wages, bad working conditions or bad work environment.

· A work permit should require a binding employment contract. The present situation enables the employer to back down from the agreed employment or working conditions, despite the fact that a work permit has been granted for up to two years. Individuals that consider that the employer has breached the agreement ought to have the right to have their cases tried in court and receive damages.

· Workers that come forward and seek help to obtain decent working conditions should not risk deportation. Instead the worker should be allowed to remain in the country for the duration of the time granted and to seek a new employer. Otherwise there is a risk that the worker goes over to the informal economy, i.e. becomes undocumented. In order to support those most vulnerable in the labour market, the LO is of the opinion that those working without work or residence permit should no longer be considered criminals, by way of an amendment to the Aliens’ Act.