Swedish unions slam budget

The first budget from the new government has had a mixed reception, winning no supporters among Sweden's union organisations but being applauded by the business world.

The chairman of Seko, the Union of Service and Communication Employees, Janne Rudén, said that the theme running through the budget was taking from the poor to give to the rich. In a press release he said that he was surprised by the “tough and right-leaning policies”.

“I think this is a big insult to all the people who thought they were voting for a new workers’ party,” said Rudén, who added that he was disappointed as he had been led to believe that the government would enter into a dialogue with the unions and that tax cuts would benefit those on lower incomes.

“Now they’ve done precisely the opposite and begun the union dialogue in a war zone.”

Wanja Lundby Wedin, the chairman of LO, Sweden’s biggest union organisation, was also critical. She said that insecurity would increase for all employees, while only a few would gain financially.

“The proposals will put a downward pressure on salaries. It’s also significant that the government has weak job policies. Unlike the conservatives, we believe that unemployment depends on a lack of jobs – and not a lack of will to seek jobs,” she said in a press statement.

On the other hand, the government’s planned investment in more old people’s homes was welcomed by the Swedish Pensioners’ Association, which had pushed the issue before the election.

“Those who feel alone and unsafe should not be forced to live at home,” said the association’s Ann Lindgren.

The chairman of the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise, Urban Bäckström, emphasised that the budget proposal was a return to “the classic model”, where partners took responsibility for the development of the labour market.

In a press release, he said that political interference in the job market had led to a massive and growing army of isolated unemployed over the last 30 years.