The heads of Sweden’s largest companies, including clothing giant H&M and telecoms maker Ericsson, denounced Friday deportations of highly-skilled workers as the nation’s technology sector suffers a shortage of staff.
In a letter published by the financial daily Dagens Industri and signed by around 30 bosses — including H&M CEO Stefan Persson and Ericsson chief executive Borje Ekholm — they write that expulsions of foreign employees “harm business” and that “Swedish companies need to hire globally”.
“We cannot expect engineers, IT-technicians, and other specialists to leave their countries if they risk expulsion from Sweden for unpredictable reasons,” they added.
The migration agency has faced criticism for refusing to extend foreign employees’ work permits, leading to expulsion, on controversial grounds.
Hussein Ismail, a Lebanese engineer at a biotech company that he founded in 2012, is facing deportation along with his wife and children after cutting his own wage for three months in 2015 to help his company survive.
Sweden’s strict laws against social dumping stipulate that if a foreign worker receives a salary below a collective agreement, then that employee must be sent back to the country of origin.
In other cases, the migration agency decided to deport a foreign worker who failed to take the required amount of holiday and because of an administrative error made by an employer.
The migration agency doesn’t comment publically on individual cases but insists on the respect for the Swedish rule of law when it sends a deportation order.
Jenny Linden, head of a group specialising in steal coatings, said the expulsions are “an absurd soap opera” that “weakens Sweden’s competitiveness”.
And Ericsson CEO Ekholm warned in the letter that if the company “wants to keep its research activities in Sweden, then economic immigration must operate in a transparent and predictable way”.
According to Johan Attby, founder of the social network Fishbrain, Stockholm will have to find 60,000 IT professionals by 2020 or risk losing its status as a hub for startups.