• Sweden's news in English

540 jobs go at Saab as sex scandal hits union

The Local · 14 Oct 2004, 23:50

Published: 14 Oct 2004 23:50 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

540 personnel, including 340 members of Åkerlund's metal workers' union, Metall, are to be handed their notice following the announcement of parent company GM's economy package yesterday. 90% of the job losses will occur next year.

But the story grabbing the headlines was the news that the entire board of the 112 chapter of the Metall union, which covers the Saab factory, resigned after it was revealed that members' money had been used to pay for the purchase of sex toys, visits to sex clubs and extravagant drinking binges. The incidents cover a period of over ten years.

There seems to be no redeeming feature to this story. Thursday's Aftonbladet revealed that it first came to light when a new accountant at the union's head office went through chapter 112's finances and found receipts for sexual aids, including two dildos of the 'Beaver' model at 600 crowns apiece. Union leaders were also informed of a notorious trip to Brussels as early as 1997.

It seems that the facts have only been made public due to a buck-passing row between 112's senior figures. In the end, treasurer Tommy Larsson blew the whistle when he sensed colleagues were trying to set him up as the fall guy.

"The board leadership tried to obscure their own role, whilst pointing me out as being solely responsible," he said.

Larsson described a number of lively trips to Aftonbladet, including a visit to a Brussels sex club in 1995. The bill came to 30,000 crowns. He claimed senior officials of 112 also visited the 'Kakadu' and 'Maxim' clubs in Copenhagen. Two visits in 1998 and 2001 cost the union over 20,000 crowns on each occasion.

Larsson readily admitted his own transgressions and was able to reassure union members and the public that 112 did exercise judgement and knew where to draw the line:

"I've done the same things as the others. But when it comes to buying sex, we all paid ourselves. We didn't use union money."

So how did grown, otherwise responsible men on official business find themselves buying dildos in a sex shop with the union Visa card? Larsson painted an evocative picture:

"We'd hired a minibus to drive down for budget discussions. The lads sat at the back bragging about going to sex clubs and all that on previous trips. The girls from the chapter thought it was unfair that we got to do that stuff. So buying those dildos for them was a bit of a joke really."

National union leader, Göran Johansson, has so far refused to answer questions on the scandal, so it's been left to Metall spokesman, Anders Ferbe, to comment:

"Clearly the reputation of the union has been damaged and the focus is off Saab and on the chapter's activities. It's deeply disappointing."

Ferbe added that an internal investigation is underway and that allegations of criminal activity are being very carefully examined.

What must be going through the minds of the Saab metal workers? With the resignation of the entire board of their chapter, both the sacked workers and those fighting for continuing production are lacking local representation at this pivotal stage in the factory's history.

In all, 12,000 GM jobs are being shed across Europe, with Germany's Opel plants faring the worst. But despite the extensive redundancies, no factories will close.

GM's cost cutting exercise is separate from the on-going 'tug of war' between Trollhättan and the Opel factory in Russelsheim, Germany, over future production of the motor giant's European medium range cars. Saab are due to submit their tender on 1 November and a decision is expected early next year.

Story continues below…

Commenting on the redundancies, business minister, Leif Pagrotsky, said:

"I realise that GM have suffered huge losses in Europe and that they must do something about them. I also realise that if GM Europe begins to turn a profit, it'll give added security to Trollhättan. But that doesn't stop it from being very sad news."

Dodi Axelsson/Andy Butterworth

Sources: Dagens Nyheter, Svenska Dagbladet, Aftonbladet, Göteborgs Posten

The Local (news@thelocal.se)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Today's headlines
Here's how slow Sweden's high-speed trains are getting
A Swedish SJX2000 high speed train. Photo: Tomas Oneborg/SvD/TT

The high-speed rail journey between the three biggest Swedish cities is about to get longer.

The Local List
12 Swedish words with just awesome literal translations
A filthy-minded lobster, i.e. a snuskhummer. Photo: Gorm Kallestad/NTB scanpix/TT

One of our favourite things about the Swedish language is its wonderful compound words, which range from being utterly bizarre to making perfect sense.

US election
Donald Trump won't get new Ericsson head's vote
Trump pictured at a campaign rally in Florida. Photo: Evan Vucci/AP

The new Swedish-American boss of telecoms giant Ericsson has revealed he will not vote for the Republican nominee in the forthcoming US presidential election.

Swedes named fourth most gender equal in the world
A file photo of men and women pushing prams in Stockholm. Photo: Claudio Bresciani/TT

Sweden has closed 81 percent of its overall gender gap according to the World Economic Forum.

Sweden: Russian warships in the Baltic 'worrying'
Swedish Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist. Photo: Vilhelm Stokstad/TT

Two Russian warships equipped with long-range missiles have entered the Baltic Sea after passing Denmark.

Why businesses are worried about Sweden's drone ban
A drone filming in Stockholm. Photo: Pontus Lundahl/TT

The Local investigates what Sweden's new drone ban could mean for businesses in the country.

This is the new top boss of Swedish Ericsson
Börje Ekholm. Photo: Magnus Hjalmarson Neideman/SvD/TT

Telecoms giant Ericsson has appointed a new CEO after a turbulent year for the company.

These are Sweden's best universities: ranking
A new university ranking has been released. Photo: Cecilia Larsson Lantz/Imagebank.sweden.se

At least according to this global ranking, which picks 12 Swedish universities among the top-1000.

Swedish pharmacies restrict paracetamol sales for teens
The move is intended to cut paracetamol overdoses. Photo: Nora Lorek/TT

Sweden's pharmacies are banning teens under 18 from buying more than one pack of pills at a time.

Rwandan genocide suspect held in Sweden
A memorial centre in Kigali, Rwanda. Photo: Ben Curtis/AP

A man has been arrested in Sweden suspected of involvement in the 1994 Rwandan genocide which claimed 800,000 lives.

Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Sweden cuts 2016 refugee forecast
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Is Game of Thrones coming to Sweden?
Property of the week: Kungsholmen, Stockholm
Blog updates

6 October

10 useful hjälpverb (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hej! I think the so-called “hjalpverb” (auxiliary verbs in English) are a good way to get…" READ »


8 July

Editor’s blog, July 8th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hej readers, It has, as always, been a bizarre, serious and hilarious week in Sweden. You…" READ »

Sponsored Article
This is Malmö: Football capital of Sweden
Will Swedes soon be looking for fairtrade porn?
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
The Local Voices
'I simply don’t believe in nationality'
Why we're convinced Game of Thrones is based on Sweden
People-watching: October 21st-23rd
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
Fury at plans that 'threaten the IB's survival' in Sweden
Sponsored Article
Swedish for programmers: 'It changed my life'
Analysis & Opinion
Are we just going to let half the country die?
Angry elk chases Swede up a lamp post
Sponsored Article
Top 7 tips to help you learn Swedish
The Local Voices
'Alienation in Sweden feels better: I find myself a stranger among scores of aliens'
Sponsored Article
‘Extremism can't be defeated on the battlefield alone’
People-watching: October 20th
The Local Voices
A layover at Qatar airport brought this Swedish-Kenyan couple together - now they're heading for marriage
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Swede punches clown that scared his grandmother
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
Fans throw flares and enter pitch in Swedish football riot
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
Could Swedish blood test solve 'Making a Murderer'?
Sponsored Article
One expat's strategy for making friends in Stockholm
Swedish school to build gender neutral changing room
Sponsored Article
Nordic fashion in focus at Stockholm University
People-watching: October 14th-16th
Man in Sweden assaulted by clowns with broken bottle
Nobel Prize 2016: Literature
Watch the man who discovered Bob Dylan react to his Nobel Prize win
Record numbers emigrating from Sweden
People-watching: October 12th
The Local Voices
'Swedish startups should embrace newcomers' talents - there's nothing to fear'
How far right are the Sweden Democrats?
Property of the week: Triangeln, Malmö
The Local Voices
Syria's White Helmets: The Nobel Peace Prize would have meant a lot, but pulling a child from rubble is the greatest reward
jobs available