Pressure mounts on union head to quit

The head of the third largest district of Sweden’s Trade Union Confederation (LO), is calling for the organization’s national leader, Wanja Lundby-Wedin, to step down.

Pressure mounts on union head to quit

“My confidence in her is at zero. It’s time to look for someone else,” said Kenneth Björkman, chair of LO Skåne, to the Expressen newspaper.

He doesn’t think Lundby-Wedin’s explanation as to why she approved a more than 60 million kronor ($7.4 million) pension package for former AMF Pension CEO Christer Elmehagen is adequate.

AMF is co-owned by LO and the Swedish Confederation of Enterprise, and Lundby-Wedin is LO’s representative on the board of AMF and voted in favour of the deal.

“Someone in her position ought to know better. This can’t be misinterpreted. She’s had everything in her hands and signed off on the annual report,” said Björkman.

Speaking with the TT news agency, Björkman conceded that he was in the minority among district labour leaders in publicly questioning Lundby-Wedin’s leadership.

“There aren’t many who are doing what I’m doing. That’s their problem. I stand for what I’ve said,” he told TT.

According to Björkman, many LO’s 1.7 million mostly blue collar members are disappointed with Lundby-Wedin and want to see her step down.

“They think it’s outrageous,” he said.

Lundby-Wedin has claimed she was unaware of what she was signing off on when she approved the former AMF Pension CEO’s pension.

Board chair Göran Tunhammar revealed that the LO chief hadn’t previously seen two documents which AMF Pension’s accountants are currently reviewing.

“These are some of the documents which are sent out to the board a few days before a special session, when we agreed to let our external accountants call in experts to go through all the documents related to Christer Elmehagen’s pension,” Tunhammar told Sveriges Raido (SR).

According to Lundby-Wedin, the two documents in question which she never saw could have significance for understanding how Elmehagen’s pension became so expensive.

She also claims that the board’s compensation committee didn’t address the issue of Elmehagen’s sizeable pension.

But Tunhammar denies Lundby-Wedin contention, saying that the compensation committee did deal with the question.

Political observers and editorialists have also said that whether Lundby-Wedin knew of the deal or did not, she had not done her job.

“A person who is paid to monitor a company should take responsibility for its business. Or resign,” the Dagens Nyheter (DN) wrote on Wednesday, a call echoed in several other dailies.

DN noted that Lundby-Wedin sat on the board of 24 companies, while financial news daily Dagens Industri said AMF’s 11 board members held a total of 119 board positions.

The scandal comes just weeks after media revealed that several AMF executives received lofty bonuses shortly after the company announced that it was reducing clients’ pensions by eight percent due to the global economic crisis.

The executives decided to pay back their bonuses after the reports.