Arla confiscates employees' passports in Saudi Arabia

The Swedish-Danish dairy cooperative Arla has confiscated the passports of 600 employees in Saudi Arabia, in violation of its own policy, Swedish Television’s Uppdrag granskning program reports.

Director of Communications Astrid Gade Nielsen says the company has “taken care of” the guest workers’ passports, but says they will get them back next week. “I can understand the criticism,” she says, “but we have followed the practice used by us and a number of other companies.”

Elisabeth Löfgren of Swedish Amnesty International says to refer to practice is “a very strange and poor excuse”. Amnesty has long criticized the treatment of guest workers in the Persian Gulf states.

Löfgren tells Swedish Television “It’s not even that the Saudi authorities have called on the guest workers to turn in their passports, it is the companies that are choosing to take them.”