Union chiefs to evict “needy women” from holiday cottages

The 'working women's vacation paradise' is located in Saltsjön in Nacka. There, the Anna Johansson-Visborg foundation built summer cottages at the end of the 1920s and since then they have provided 'needy women' with a place to spend their vacation, at a reasonable price. Until now.

LO, The Swedish Trade Union Confederation, controls the foundation and according to last Thursday’s Expressen, the organisation is now planning to tear down the cottages and build 30 luxury homes instead.

“We are scared that they will kick us out,” said 79 year-old Margit Nagel to Expressen, one of the women who has enjoyed the benefit of the cottages over the years.

“It’s purely for economic reasons that we want to do this. It’s an attractive area and we need the money,” said Bo Billborn who is a member of the foundation board and the man behind the idea.

If the building plans are approved by Nacka kommun, five cottages will have to be torn down. The women living in them are worried, but Bo Billborn said no one will be evicted. Instead, the Anna Johansson-Visborg foundation will find them somewhere else to live.

But according to Thursday’s Dagens Nyheter, the reason why the foundation is in need of money now is that its finances have been mismanaged for many years.

The company hired to build the houses is Riksbyggen; a company in which Bo Billborn has been “active for some years” and where “he has good contacts”. DN asked him if his contacts helped him choose this particular company.

“It’s comfortable and easy if you know the people and have good contact; you can trust and have a dialogue with them. I am confident that everything will work out,” said Bo Billborn, apparently missing the point.

But the cottage ladies found unexpected support in the form of LO’s chairman, Wanja Lundby-Wedin.

“Even though LO has not had any influence over the foundation, this has raised questions concerning the union’s morals and ethics,” she said. “That’s why a thorough investigation is needed. Even if things have happened accordingly to the union’s rules, it loses its significance if what is decided does not match the members’ moral values.”

Lars Ohly, leader of the left party, called the entire affair a ‘scandal’.

“We would not have been surprised of this had been done by business leaders or stock market directors. But when leaders of unions and members of so called ‘working party’ take advantage of people like this, it makes us angry,” he wrote.

The board was dismissed by the county council and Wednesday’s Svenska Dagbladet reported that prosecutors are investigating the affair.

The foundation has been under investigation since the summer, and a number of irregularities have been found: directors have arranged apartments and rental discounts for themselves and family members.

“This has damaged the foundation’s reputation, but the economic damages are still unclear. We don’t think the foundation’s goals have been achieved. The only solution is to dismiss the committee,” said Mikael Wiman, deputy judge of the county to SvD.

The decision concerns five members, including former spokeswoman, Agneta Johansson, who resigned a few days ago. The regulations are clear; members who are criticized in reports will be dismissed.

The number of apartments being rented to friends and family is till unclear. Until the investigation is concluded a temporary board has been appointed.

Sources: Dagens Nyheter, Svenska Dagbladet, Expressen