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Tighten up!

| Berit Kvam

The limit has been reached. Controls are being increased and things are being tightened up. Even Sweden has thrown in the towel. Swedish asylum rules will be adapted to fit with the EU’s minimum level. What now? Will the Nordic welfare societies stand the test?

Refugee politics — it is what everyone is talking about, Finnish Jari Lindstrøm at the meeting of Nordic labour ministers tells the Nordic Labour Journal. This is also our theme this month, when we ask: Refugees - burden or resource? 

Tighten up! We have heard it so much and often that it must reverberate in Africa. That is exactly the point. When cabin pressure falls and oxygen masks come down, you help yourself first and others second. That is the Norwegian answer to the challenges, presented to foreign journalists by a Norwegian state secretary. 

There are different opinions for when you should say stop. When a Swedish politician fights back tears so that she can hardly say what she has decided, the decision might be better grounded in numbers than when a Norwegian proclaims that this is what we always warned against. It is about so much more, not least human dignity.

It is up to politicians to make decisions. This autumn we have seen that the increase in the number of refugees arriving has accelerated in a way which cannot continue, as our estimates show. 

That is what makes it so difficult — no-one knows how the situation will develop in the longer or shorter term. Is the Finnish Minister of Justice and Employment right when he fears an increased polarisation of society? How do we avoid that? And what will the effect be on our Nordic welfare model? Will it stand the test?

The question remains; should we throw in the towel, allow the tightening up of rules choke development, or how do we secure good development where everyone gets a better future?

The Norwegian expert on refugees and work, Berit Berg, is convinced that cutting wages in order to get people into the labour market will help create a new underclass. 

The social partners say we should negotiate and find collective solutions to make sure we prevent further discontent among unemployed Nordic citizens and a gap between workers who are paid differently for equal work. Perhaps we should be inspired by the Finnish entrepreneurs and Startup Refugees, who have poured their money and efforts into creating a new spirit in Finnish society. They look at refugees as a resource. People who can give Nordic welfare a boost.

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