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Documentaries, society

Thai Berry Pickers in Sweden

YEAR: 2020 | LENGTH: 1 part (26 minutes)  |  SOURCE: DW


Every summer thousands of Thai workers comb Sweden’s forests searching for berries – a job Swedes won’t do. What drives these people halfway round the globe to harvest berries in less than ideal conditions?

Chang is one of about six thousand Thai migrant workers who come to Sweden to work the summer harvest every year. Rather than toiling in a rice paddy at home, he spends up to twelve hours a day gathering blueberries and lingonberries. It’s Chang’s first time in Sweden, but he sees it as a great chance to earn good money. But even though an agency hired him and got him his visa and air ticket, Chang had to borrow money to finance his living expenses and will have to pay that back before he sees a cent of the guaranteed minimum wage of nearly two thousand Euros a month.

Investigative journalist Mats Wingborg has been following the fruit pickers from Thailand for a long time. He says, “The system is wide-open to fraud. The Thais also have to work at least a month to pay their debts. If the harvest is bad, some of them may even still be in debt when they go back home.”


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