Should uneducated refugees get lower wages?

2:37 min

The agency that conducts independent evaluations of the government's fiscal policy has suggested that refugees without education can earn salaries below the minimum wage as a way to ease their entrance to the job market.

Swedish Radio News reports that John Hassler, the chairperson of the Swedish Fiscal Policy Council, believes that collective bargaining agreements should lower the threshhold for an employer to bring on newcomers who have low qualifications.

"I believe that people need to think about clauses in the agreements that make it possible to pay lower wages than the current minimum wages, for people who have extremely low qualifications and no experience from the Swedish labor market," Hassler told Swedish Radio News.

This is not the first time a discussion about wage levels and the opportunity to employ people has arisen, but the debate has come up again, with more refugees in Sweden.

Hassler suggested that salaries and payroll tax should be cut in half for people who come to Sweden without an education.

Mohammad Tariq Sarwari, who was educated in Afghanistan but wants to complement that by studying at a Swedish university, says it is more important for him to get a job than to have a good wage.

"It doesn't make a difference whether the salary is low or high. In Afghanistan, I had a high salary, but I wasn't safe there. I believe that salary isn't the most important thing," he said.

However, unions and employers are butting heads on the issue.

Eva Östling, the CEO of the hotel and restaurant association, Visita, says that jobs paying low wages give an opportunity to people to get into work. But Therese Guovelin, the chair of the hotel and restaurant workers' union, is decidedly opposed to a specific agreement for unskilled refugees.

"It's totally absurd with different salaries, depending on which country you're born in. Regardless of whether I'm born in Damaskus or Gothenburg, I should have the same wage for doing an equivalent job," said Guovelin.

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