Finnish berry companies are struggling to recruit seasonal workers as Thailand cut the number of travel visas it issues, according to the national public broadcaster Yle.
Some 2,400 Thai berry pickers arrived in Finland this summer, compared to the 3,500 in 2017. Burry growing firms estimate they are in need of double the number of Asian seasonal workers for this year’s harvest.
The cut in travel visas from Thailand is due to the 2018 conviction of a Finnish burry firm, which was convicted of using its seasonal work program to traffic Thais into the country. The owner of the berry company in central Finland was handed a suspended prison sentence and ordered to pay a €200,000 compensation to the Thai pickers. The court decision has since been appealed.
“The poorer the country of origin, the greater the risk of falling victim to human trafficking in Finland or the Schengen area,” said Leena Liukkonen, who heads the Foreign Ministry.
Liukkonen points out that visa applications from some countries may be subject to review by other Schengen states, which complicates matters further.