Workers canned for ‘disloyal’ Facebook post

Three workers at at a Volvo engine plant in central Sweden were given their marching orders after one of them described his place of work as a 'madhouse' in a Facebook status update.

Workers canned for 'disloyal' Facebook post

During a break at work one of the workers updated his Facebook status with the words, “One work day of the week to go in this madhouse”, the local Skaraborgs Allehanda newspaper reports.

What took the man less than thirty seconds to write cost him his job. Upon viewing the man’s status update, his employers interpreted the post as disloyal and sent the man packing.

Two colleagues were also fired for commenting on the post, according to several media reports.

Although the man was not a direct employee of Volvo, but was working for a staffing agency, Volvo made it clear that the man was not welcome back.

The fact that he had praised Volvo in other status updates made no difference, according to the Skaraborgs Allehanda.

The man defended himself by saying that he was in a bad mood as his mother was seriously ill. She died two days later.

After taking a three day absence from work, the man returned and was called into a meeting where he learned that he wasn’t welcome back because of what he wrote on Facebook.

The Swedish trade Union organisation LO, which represents 1.5 million workers in Sweden, has no central policy on the use of social media, such as Twitter and Facebook at the place of work.

However, LO ombudsman, Johan Ingelskog is skeptical toward employers who fire workers over what they may write on social media websites.

“If you write something on Facebook, your employer should not be able to sack you for it,” he told The Local on Monday.

Mårten Vikfors, head of media relations at Volvo Group AB, the parent company of Volvo Powertrain, told The Local that employees are welcome to use social media.

“They should, among other things, be judicious and show respect as well as follow the company’s code of conduct,” he said.

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Sweden’s Volvo regains strength after pandemic puts brakes on earnings

Swedish truck maker Volvo Group was hit by a sharp drop in earnings due to the coronavirus pandemic, but business rebounded at the end of the year.

Sweden's Volvo regains strength after pandemic puts brakes on earnings
Volvo Group CEO Martin Lundstedt. Photo: Adam Ihse/TT

In 2020, the group saw “dramatic fluctuations in demand” due to the Covid-19 pandemic, chief executive Martin Lundstedt said in a statement.

For 2021, Volvo raised its sales forecasts in its trucks division – its core business – in Europe, North America and Brazil.

However, it said it also expected “production disturbances and increased costs” due to a “strained” supply chain, noting a global shortage of semiconductors across industries.

The truck making sector is particularly sensitive to the global economic situation and is usually hard hit during crises.

In March, as the pandemic took hold around the world, Volvo suspended operations at most of its sites in 18 countries and halted production at Renault Trucks, which it owns, in Belgium and France.

Operations gradually resumed mid-year, but not enough to compensate for the drop in earnings.

With annual sales down 22 percent to 338 billion kronor (33.4 billion euros, $40 billion), the group posted a 46 percent plunge in net profit to 19.3 billion kronor (1.9 billion euros).

Operating margin fell from 11.5 to 8.1 percent.

However, the group did manage to cut costs by 20 percent.

“We have significantly improved our volume and cost flexibility, which were crucial factors behind our earnings resilience in 2020,” the group said.

Volvo's business regained strength in the second half of the year.

“Customer usage of trucks and machines increased when the Covid-19 restrictions were eased during the summer and this development continued during both the third and fourth quarters,” it said.

“Both the transport activity and the construction business are back at levels on par with the prior year in most markets.”

For the fourth quarter alone, the company reported a 38-percent rise in net profit from a year earlier.