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Union chief criticized for taxable perk error

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Union chief criticized for taxable perk error
09:30 CEST+02:00
Wanja Lundby-Wedin, head of Sweden's Trade Union Confederation (LO), has been criticized for letting her husband stay for free at an Italian holiday camp.

Lundby-Wedin is the chairperson of the union-owned Riva del Sole holiday resort on Italy's Adriatic Sea coast.

She habitually spends six days a year at the resort, about half of which are filled with board meetings, the other half dedicated to "observing operations", writes the newspaper Expressen.

As for the other union heads - among them chairman of the Swedish Confederation for Professional Employees, Sture Nordh - it is common practice to take their spouses along to accompany them.

Lundby-Wedin, it has emerged, let her husband share her double hotel room for free.

This constitutes a tax benefit, writes the newspaper. Something that Lundby-Wedin says she was not aware.

"No, I have not even considered that it could be. But I will look into it when I come home," she said to Expressen.

But Ella Niia, chairperson of the Hotel and Restaurant Workers' Union (HRF), is critical.

"It is crystal clear that no family members shall live for free if he or she accompanies a business trip," she told the newspaper, and is backed up by Janne Rudén, chairperson of the transport workers union (SEKO).

Lundby-Wedin later explained in a statement on LO's homepage that it is her understanding that the benefit is subject to Italian tax, as with her other Riva del Sole income, and is thus not considered taxable.

Riva del Sole is majority owned by LO, with shares owned by TCO and consumer retail group KF.

The Italian finance police have investigated the Riva del Sole resort and have concluded that it has underpaid pensions contributions for 20 lifeguards from May 2001 to October 2006.

The outstanding sum could run to 500,000 kronor ($67,059) according to Italian police, but could increase by several hundred thousand kronor.

Felice Bassi, the director of Riva del Sole, disputes the police demands.

"We have challenged the demand. The authority's decision is based on an estimate and one that we consider to be wrong," Bassi told Expressen.

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