The contracting firm Skogsnicke, which hired staff from Cameroon, has been devoted much attention in the Swedish media this winter. Jeanette Tretten, head of communications at Holmen Skog, can you describe the current situation?
At the beginning of February, negotiations were concluded between GS (Swedish Union of Forestry, Wood and Graphical Workers) and Skogs- och Lantarbetsgivareförbundet, SLA (employers’ organisation for the forestry and agricultural industries) regarding the planters from Cameroon who had worked for Skogsnicke AB in summer 2012. A total of 13 people, who have authorised GS to act on their behalf, have been awarded the right to remuneration. Payment was made on 28 February, and Holmen and SCA additionally stood the costs of the workers’ journey home to Cameroon.
What is Holmen’s view on the outcome?
Prior to the negotiations, GS and SLA looked into the contracts that had been signed, the work that had been performed and the payments that had been made. The planters have now been remunerated in accordance with collective agreements and the issue has been dealt with in line with how we resolve disputes in the Swedish labour market.
Could there be even more people entitled to payment and what will happen to these people?
Holmen is of the opinion that everyone who has worked for Skogsnicke AB shall receive the payment they are entitled to. If there are other workers who consider they are entitled to payment, we urge these people to contact SLA.
Skogsnicke AB had sent to the planters an offer of employment for a period of six months, with a monthly salary. Shouldn’t they have received the entire amount stated in the offer of employment?
GS and SLA are two professional parties in the Swedish labour market. They have investigated the case, conducted negotiations and come to a decision on the remuneration amount. We trust their procedures.
Before starting work in Sweden, the planters received an offer of employment issued on a form from the Swedish Migration Board. Their work permits were issued on the basis of this form, but the form itself is not legally binding. What is Holmen’s view on this?
We think it is important that people coming from other countries to work in Sweden are presented with a correct picture of both conditions and regulations. In the future we will be checking the work permits of all contractors’ employees. If the rules regarding migrant workers are deficient, this is an issue that should be addressed by the politicians responsible.
What is Holmen doing to ensure that this does not happen again?
When the matter came to our attention last autumn, we immediately started working on improvements. Contractors must hold PEFC certification as in previous seasons. We will naturally continue our collaboration with GS. Additionally, ahead of the coming season, we will be working on the following:
- New inspections and procedures during contract negotiation. This will include performing a more comprehensive analysis of the financial status of potential contractors, along with acquiring the names of all employees and, in cases where employees come from a country outside the EU, their work permits. We will also be focusing to a greater extent on the social conditions of employees.
- All employees at Holmen Skog whose work involves procuring the services of contractors will undergo training focusing on aspects such as the collective agreement for the forestry industry, and health and safety legislation.
- We will work with GS to perform inspections in the field of all silviculture contractors.
- We will be checking that contractors and their employees undergo the silviculture training programme – a web-based programme that also includes a section on being an employee.
Read previous news article:
2013-01-28 Holmen welcomes progress to resolve migrant workers case