Government sacks employment agency head

The head of Sweden’s Public Employment Service (Arbetsförmedlingen) was surprised to learn on Thursday that he was being replaced.

Bo Bylund commented on Friday that he was forced out of the job. He claims that the government never criticized his leadership, saying he was surprised by the decision.

“I think this is the wrong time to change directors. We are in the middle of starting fresh with a whole new organization and large cutbacks,” said Bylund during a press conference.

“I’m surprised at their point of view and the speed of the process. I think it’s regrettable,” he said.

During what he thought was a routine meeting on Thursday with state secretary Eva Uddén, Bylund learned that Minister for Employment Sven Otto Littorin also wanted to meet him.

“I learned then that my position would be advertised and that a new director would be in place after the summer of 2008. Next week the government will name an interim director to look after things until then, while I’ll be moved over to a general director position within the Government Offices,” said Bylund in a statement.

“No one ever criticized my leadership. There was no room for discussion and a final version of a press release was to be sent out right after the meeting.”

Bylund has a hard time seeing any reason for his firing.

“An agency head puts existing policy into practice. The mission is to implement the decisions taken by the government and the Riksdag in the best possible way,” he said.

Janne Rudén, head of the Union of Service and Communication Employees (Seko), criticized the government’s actions.

“We have members at Arbetsförmedling and they have done a really good job on the basis of the new directives. They’ve done this with Bylund leading the way. If he is removed, there is a risk of destroying all of the work which the whole organization has carried out over the past year,” said Rudén.