WPHA attended Almedalen with the goal to evaluate the authorities’ as well as public’s understanding of the work permit holders’ issues. Not only this, we tried to raise as much awareness as we could through various means like distributing flyers explaining our situation, approaching media persons, talking with bureaucrats and politicians etc. We spent almost a week there, the chronological summary of which is as follows:
One of our representatives met the editor of Al-Kompis news, which reported about us a month ago. He agreed that he would publish more about the issues that WPHA will communicate to them. Our representatives also got in touch with reps of major Swedish news outlets but they seemed to have a very busy and fixed schedule so they could not publish our topic during the event. but we did convey our message to them.
Reps of WPHA also approached AFA insurance in order to request them to consider retroactive payment of insurances. They seemed largely unconvinced primarily because of the existing laws but we requested them to convey our ideas to policymakers.
We also got in touch with Paula Beiler from SD who has been actively involved with the ongoing immigration crisis. She welcomed our ideas and agreed with all our viewpoints. We left her with a possibility to meet her again after Summer.
Our representative then got in touch with Liberal Party’s Jan Björklund’s secretary and exchanged contact details, hoping that we could possibly set a meeting soon.
We then met Anna Erhardt, head of communication at Unionen, who was interested in a detailed meeting with us. For us, Unionen is a source of getting in touch with other similar unions and employers associated with these unions.
Later in one of seminars of Migrationsverket, our representative raised the question of not stopping deportations until new laws come, and the late implementation of new laws; both of which would result in more deportations because of minor errors. Mikael Ribbenvik (DG) responded by saying that they are trying to speed up the process, and also that they’re waiting for the courts to give their verdict on ongoing cases so the new guidelines could be made as soon as possible. Later in a private chat with our rep, the DG mentioned that they’re now prioritising the cases of those who have been waiting for very long. The DG showed interest in meeting us again and we left the seminar with his contact details.
Our reps also met Hans-Jurgen Heimsoeth, Germany’s Ambassador, and after introducing WPHA, asked him that being a representative of another EU country, how he looked at the situation. We left him with his contact information.
The reps met Johanna Jönsson (Center Party’s rep for immigration) and Katarina Berg (CHRO at Spotify) and had a discussion with them. The discussion was good and revolved around our issues but unfortunately they did not have any concrete updates to offer.
Our representatives then approached various employers who are affected by the issue of deportation. The employers seemed to share our views and were very much willing to organise a workshop in collaboration with us where we would invite various unions, lawyers, employers etc to discuss the issues in more depth. Our reps also met the head of communications from Visita, which is a union of restaurant owners, He agreed to meet us very soon.
We officially set up a stall and it grabbed attention of various people including Amnesty International’s rep, who appeared to find a strong relation between our issues and what they stand for. Our reps then met various ministers from Social Democrats and representatives of important organisations like LO, TCO etc. One of the reps succeeded in finalising a meeting with a journalist from SVD too.
Our reps got a chance to put questions to important persons in the government and Migrationsverket in seminars. We raised the question of delayed implementation of law, and why it’s not possible to enforce it right away. To this, Maria Ferm (responsible for immigration in Green Party) replied by assuring us that they are trying to find a solution to this. We also raised questions of vacation issues and issues where the workers work more in one season and less in another. We did not get very convincing answers though. After the seminar, Maria Ferm agreed to meet us soon. Our reps talked with Mikael Ribbenvik where the DG mentioned that Migrationsverket does not check previous permit periods internally now, unless they find something suspicious about the application. However, we could not get the elaboration of what he said. Our reps also talked with Jennie Sörman, section head Migrationsverket, who seemed happy to hear our suggestions. She agreed to meet again too.
We attended another seminar where Johanna Jönsson (Center Party), Maria Ferm (Green Party) and Karina Olsson (Social Democrats) were present too. Our rep mentioned that when we approach politicians with our problems, they redirect us to Migrationsverket. Migrationsverket redirects us to courts. And courts cite the problematic law and redirect us back to politicians, leaving us in the middle of nowhere. To this, we did not get any convincing reply. We also met a lawyer after the seminar who was interested in helping our cause. Two of the reps also met the CEO of Sevenskt Näringsliv, who showed interest too and agreed to meet us again.
One rep met the Vice chairman of LO, who also showed interest in meeting us again after we shed some light on our issues.
It is important to mention that Mikael Ribbenvik (DG Migrationsverket) visited our stall and while talking, mentioned that WPHA’s data and information is definitely going to be used in making the new laws.
In a seminar by Amnesty International, representative from TCO raised a question that why is it that Migrationsverket rejects the same applicant whom they granted extension before, despite the fact that the terms of employment remained the same. Mikael Ribbenvik responded by saying that there must have been some logical reasoning behind the decision.
Later, the migration lawyer from Amnesty International visited our stall and provided us some valuable feedback and suggestions regarding our approach. The representative from TCO also visited us and appreciated our efforts gave some suggestions.
Finally, we met several journalists, got their contact details and we also got interviewed by some. According to the agenda we tried our best to network with Social Democrats, LO, Migrationsverket and some other important organisations that have the authority to fix the ongoing crisis. WPHA team believes that it has achieved the goal set for Almedalen 2017 and the networking has paved our way to meet the important people after summer vacations.