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Union chief avoids sack

Union chief avoids sack

Published: 07 Apr 2009 07:04 GMT+02:00
Updated: 07 Apr 2009 07:04 GMT+02:00

Wanja Lundby-Wedin is to remain in her post as head of Sweden’s Trade Union Confederation (LO), but will endure a pay cut of around 40 percent.

The announcement was made after after a seven hour board meeting on Monday and despite opposition from several of the LO federations.

The extraordinary board meeting was convened at midday on Monday in the LO stronghold on Norra Bantorget in Stockholm and assembled representatives from the 15 LO federations.

The meeting was preceded by widespread speculation that the AMF Pension scandal would see an end to Lundby-Wedin's tenure as head of LO.

The head of the SEKO transport-workers union, Janne Rudén was among those that demanded her resignation.

"We considered this to be the best resolution," he said to news agency TT.

But he added that at the meeting he was not prepared to challenge a majority decision. According to Janne Rudén he was not alone in opposing Lundby-Wedin.

"I hope that this is the correct decision," he commented after having ultimately pledged his support for Lundby-Wedin.

The LO head called a press conference for 7.45pm on Monday, flanked by heavyweight union leaders Ylva Thörn and Stefan Löfven.

"There has been a thorough review of a very serious situation," IF Metall metalworkers union head Stefan Löfven said to the assembled media.

In other words it was not at all assured that Lundby-Wedin would receive the support of the 15 union federations.

According to public employees union head Ylva Thörn, the marathon meeting was necessary to pore over the reactions of LO members and analyze the consequences of the situation.

Social Democrat leader, Mona Sahlin, who on Saturday held Lundby-Wedin's role in the AMF Pension scandal to blame for the party's collapse in the opinion polls, welcomed the decision on Monday.

"But it was completely necessary to withdraw from her board memberships and concentrate on her main job," Sahlin said.

Wanja Lundby-Wedin concedes that the controversy over the AMF Pension scandal has damaged both her and LO.

"The past few weeks have been difficult for the union movement. Of course confidence in me has been damaged among the members."

Lundby-Wedin promised in the future to focus her energies on core union issues, meet the members, and to scale down her portfolio of prior commitments.

The loss of most of her board memberships will result in an effective pay cut of around 40 percent.

"Don't feel sorry for me. I will just have to juggle my life around a little. That I do willingly," Lundby-Wedin said on Monday.

The meeting addressed three core issues: Lundby-Wedin's post on the board of AMF Pension, her many commitments and former secretary Erland Olausson's pay and pensions agreements.

TT/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

08:16 April 7, 2009 by 7
i must admit that i'm astonished by this. i hope it inspires members to turn in their union cards.
08:55 April 7, 2009 by Jakub72
I have been curious about the Unions in Sweden since I became aware of an ex-pat contract for my wife. Are they beneficial to the workers? Being from the states, unions automatically comjur images of the UAW and Hoffa. Not exactly the pillars of our society. I blame the UAW for the mess that the automakers are in and their heavily padded and insane benefits given out to their line workers. Where else can a high school drop out make $100,000/year? And it looks like the taxpayers will once again suffer...
09:24 April 7, 2009 by Holecutter > The Howl From He
One would have to ask...who the hell is she humping ?

09:52 April 7, 2009 by Plowbridge H. Broad
Without the unions there would be mass unemployment, low wages and poor standards in the work place. It is the greedy corporate americanisation of business that has just bought the world to it's knees and yet you wish to do away with workers representatives.

That's why this world is in a mess. Ignorance and greed.
10:15 April 7, 2009 by Jakub72
The US has OSHA (employee safety) ask any company that violated it policies and gauge their response and how much it cost them. Department of Labor (employee rights)...the company I worked for got fined $300,000 last year for lunch time complience violations, even with mandatory lunches. A terminable offense if violated. The unemployement rate for both countries was about the same around 5.6% for the last few years. Current crisis not withstanding.

Typical response...blame the US for everything...then why was it that the blind where leading the blind into a world wide reccession? Oh yes...greed...the world saw a quick buck and jumped all over the US economy without doing their homework. Shame on the US for being so money hungry and materialistic, what the worlds excuse?

I was merely curious to why unions are so prevelent here and if the average worker really does benefit from them. At one point in my work history I was a part of two seperate unions, both where incapable of doing anything for me but skim from my paycheck. In my opinion, the US does not need unions. They are more harmful then not. I can't speak for Sweden...hence the question.
10:23 April 7, 2009 by ameribrit
Where did you get from Jakub72 's post that there is a desire to do away with workers representatives? It was a question.

Maybe a rational explanation of how the Swedish Union system is a good thing will be more productive. I am extremely anti union in the US but extremely positive Union in Sweden. They can not be compared, although the reason for this thread is not a good sign for the Swedish Union's future path.

Just to make things a little clearer. Yes the American corporations did cause the problem the world is in at the moment but remember that it was aided by the rest of the world throwing their investment dollars/SEK/Euros etc at the US get rich quick schemes that kept the beast fed. We are all complicit.
13:51 April 7, 2009 by chapora
As to the state of the unions today. Well in fairness they have been pretty lame in fact almost conspiciously silent during these hard times. I wondered why until I took a close look at what has exactly been happening in industry in Sweden. Firstly Union bosses have been more or less incorporated within senior management thus the once conflict of interest between workers rights and owners desire for profit above all else is no longer balencing each other. Proposed pay cuts to line workers and not at the same time to management is a blatant example of this sactioned by the unions recently. Secondly the emergence of outsorcing of labor although here in sweden it has meant basically the swapping of staff between companies. In other words manufacturer A "Siemens" for example now cancels all contracts between his workforce and brings in a secondary company "Manpower" for example who employ the same workforce to do the same job except now they are answerable to Manpower who holding these individuals on short term renewable contracts can basically pay them less and dispose of them at will while providing a complete stop to job progression, training and personal development thus saving money. The unions have basically not addressed this issue and have failed to set up a "bemanning" (meaning these temp agencies) union to specifically handle this new labor market. Again in Sweden a 2 tier system has been allowed to develop whereby some individuals (mostly those who are 3rd generation Swede) have a full time proper job with a firm and a 1st hand contract on an appartment. While the rest are having to make do with a temporay contract at work and a dodgey or 2nd hand contract on an appartment. It is to be noted that a large proportion of immigrants arriving to sweden have been offered these temp agency jobs.

Oh yes and I believe that this concept of outsoucing came from that old chestnut of political ideals "Reaganomics" so we can have a good stab in the dark as to where this outsourcing easter egg is going to take us.
14:26 April 7, 2009 by Plowbridge H. Broad
I have always had the intent to defend the essence of the trades union movement and in return expect basic principles to be upheld and action to be taken where necessary. I have had my suspicions that too many high ranking officials here are inducted into management roles and the ensuing conflicts of interest can be very damaging.

Interesting comments from Chapora; It doesn't surprise me to hear of weak behaviour from the Unions, the fear of taking responsibility appears to be ingrained into the psyche of the country.
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