Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Asian Migrant Workers See Exploitation in Sweden

Check out the article by Matthew Saltmarsh on the NYT website.

Swedish Lingonberries
photo credit: bwcabound on squidoo
 While I am definitely sympathetic to the plight of the workers mentioned in the article (apparently the exploitation of migrant agricultural laborers is a widespread problem), I just want to point out that Sweden has moved to provide a minimum wage of $2240USD per month for them now. This is in contrast to the US having minimum wage exemptions for certain categories of workers (like those made for small-scale agricultural and food service employees), exemptions that deny exempted workers the meager $1247USD per month, which is the monthly total for 40 hour weeks at the federal minimum wage. [I arrived at this number by multiplying 40 hours of full-time work (the US full-time standard) by 4.3 (the standard metric for converting weekly amounts to monthly amounts) and then multiplying that by $7.25USD (current federal minimum wage). The equation looks like this: (40x4.3)=172 then (172x$7.25)=$1247. Starting with Sweden's minimum monthly wage and running the same equation in reverse I arrived at just over $13USD per hour, nearly double the US minimum wage (which doesn't even cover everyone anyway...).

Minimum Wage Comparison: USA $1247month/ Sweden $2240month... Anybody interested in going to pick berries in Sweden next season?

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