FI has damaged feminism – LO chief

Feminist Inititative (FI) has damaged feminism in Sweden, according to the leader of the powerful LO union group, who also admits that the Moderate Party is attracting former Social Democrat voters.

“FI has become a kind of feminist blockage,” Wanja Lundby-Wedin told TT.

Lundby-Wedin points to the internal arguments and defections from the young party, which have come to dominate the debate around feminist issues in Sweden.

“I am afraid that these questions have been killed off,” said Lundby-Wedin, who added that she sees the Social Democrats, with which LO is allied, as a feminist party.

The Social Democrat party conference starts on Saturday in Malmö. LO has a significant influence on Social Democrat policy.

According to Lundby-Wedin, jobs and welfare are the most important questions facing the party, but there is not expected to be a great deal of disagreement between the party and the unions on this issue.

Tension is possible on the issue of benefits for parental leave. LO wants parental leave to be split into three, with five months reserved for fathers, five months for mothers and five months to be shared according to the parents’ wishes, thereby putting pressure on fathers to take more time off with their children.

The party’s board, however, of which Lundby-Wedin is a member, has avoided addressing the question.

Lundby-Wedin is lukewarm on the question of a right to full-time work – an issue that has made many employers see red:

“I don’t think that you can legislate to give people the right to a full-time job. But it is possible to make full-time the norm, so that employers have to give reasons for departing from this norm.”

With less than a year to the general election, the LO leader says the situation on the employment market will be crucial for the outcome. She believes than certain Social Democrat voters have switched to the Moderates because of their proposals for tax cuts for people in work.

“I can imagine that many are attracted by that,” she says. But she adds that these tax cuts are accompanied by benefits cuts.

“It is not the case that we either work or we don’t.” Most people move in an out of work: we become ill, we get injured on the way to work or we see our workplace close, she says.

TT/The Local