Unions row over sympathy strikes

A war of words has broken out between two heavyweight members of Sweden’s trade union confederation LO. “I think it is unfortunate. It doesn’t facilitate our attempts to reach agreement,” said chairwoman Wanja Lundby-Wedin.

A discussion on sympathy strikes escalated into full scale conflict yesterday evening after the chairman of the large metal union IF Metall, Stefan Löfvén, expressed his reservations.

“It is too early to commit to sympathy actions this early when there are several months remaining in this round of wage negotiations. We do not know what the situation will look like by springtime,” said Löfven.

Hearing of Löfvén’s reticence, Transport Union Chairman Per Winberg was incandescent with rage.

“Metall has given up the battle against capital,” said Winberg.

The leader of the Transport Union wants all members of “the LO collective” to stand firm against the owners of capital “now that profits are high and shareholders and directors have got their share”.

Sympathy strikes constitute an integral part of this oppositional stance.

“The soul of the workers’ movement is that we help each other. That’s what solidarity is about.

“With their philosophy IF Metall and the industrial unions no longer belong to the workers’ movement,” said Winberg.

Rounding off his salvo of insults Winberg maintained that Metall was “rotting from within”.

“It is unfortunate when these sorts of media debates arise,” said Wanja Lundby-Wedin.

LO is currently trying to get all 15 of its affiliated unions on board for the winter round of wage negotiations. Next week the unions are expected to express their views regarding the recommendations of the LO board.

Sympathy measures make up one of the most important points. Lundby-Wedin has not given up quite yet but there are indications that the Food Workers’ Unions and the Forest and Wood Trade Union share Metall’s scepticism.

“Of course it weakens our positions if we cannot get all the unions together. It will make it more difficult to achieve our demands for wage negotiations.

So of course all of us bear a large amount of responsibility now,” said Lundby-Wedin.