U.F.O. center hires with help of state money
The Archive for U.F.O. Research in Norrköping has just hired its first full-time employee with the help of Swedish state money.
"This is the first employee I think, maybe in the world, working at a U.F.O. archives," says Clas Svahn, chairman of U.F.O. Sweden, who works with the Archive, to Radio Sweden.
The Archive, which Svahn claims is the largest of its kind, relies on both volunteers and paid workers to maintain its collection of Swedish and international books, magazines, reports, films, pictures, and other ephemera about unidentified flying objects and the unknown. The materials are spread throughout a few buildings and fill up some 325 square meters of space.
There is already a paid staff of about seven people who were hired through the Public Employment Agency's controversial "phase three" program, aimed to return the long-term jobless to work. The program has been criticized for not paying workers enough and for providing employers with cheap labor.
"When I compare us with many other phase three employers," says Svahn. "I can see that we are very far ahead of them. We are doing a real job – not just keeping people busy. I can understand that people are wondering, but we are very good employers. We even gave them bonuses for Christmas. I don't think too many Phase Three employers do that."
He says the Archive uses the money they get from the State to employ these people (roughly $280/day) in order to invest in creating a proper working environment for them.
"That money has made it possible for us to buy . . . new computers, to expand, and get these things done that we never thought we could do before," he says.
Now, the Archive is hiring one of them full-time as part of the Employment Agency's new start job program.
"He will be the director of scanning, and the boss of several other people from the several other people from the unemployment agency who are doing scanning and digitizing," says Svahn.
Responding to a question about whether it is appropriate for State money to help fund the Archive's activities, Svahn responds that his is a bona fide enterprise.
"We have been investigated by the unemployment agency a couple of times. They consider us one of the best employers in Norrköping... We are giving those persons a job that they consider important. They are learning things, we are teaching them new skills, we are taking good care of them," he says.
"This is also a folkloristic archive. We are keeping things for posterity that other folkloristic archives run by the State don't do," says Svahn.
Svahn, himself, is a volunteer, and explains that besides state money, the Archive is also relies on private sponsors. He underlines that the only people earning any money at the Archive are those who have come in from the Employment Agency.