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Swedish bus firm backs on foreign language ban

TT/The Local/pvs · 8 Mar 2011, 14:36

Published: 08 Mar 2011 11:40 GMT+01:00
Updated: 08 Mar 2011 14:36 GMT+01:00

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According to employment conditions drawn up by new transport operator Keolis and reviewed by Sveriges Radio (SR), the firm planned to impose its Swedish-only conditions to cover all interaction on its premises, including lunches and breaks.

Keolis, which takes over the running of bus services in the town in the summer from Arriva, argued that the initiative has been taken to counter discrimination.

"To enable everyone to participate in the workplace all have to be able to understand each other," said Mats Freding at the firm to SR.

Freding pointed out that non-compliance could in theory mean the sack.

"Ultimately, you can get fired if you do not follow the terms of conduct," he said.

But now the firm's leadership has argued that the local Jönköping initiative is not supported by corporate policy.

"It is not supported by the the company leadership," Keolis' director of communications Helena Reinhagen said on Tuesday afternoon.

"The well-meaning thought behind this local initiative was to create a good atmosphere in the workplace, but it has been misguided. Naturally you are able to speak the language which is best suited to the situation," she said.

SR's report on Tuesday morning prompted criticism from some quarters, including Social Democrat MP Peter Persson.

"It is beyond me," he said.

But on hearing of the employment conditions, the Kommunal union did not find anything in the new contracts that it would consider to be objectionable.

Story continues below…

Union head Thor Tärnbring argued to SR that it is a problem when several languages are spoken at once, especially in the staff canteen.

"It would be a racket when four or five languages are mixed up and no one can get any peace and quiet, it would become a mix of everything," he said, claiming that foreign languages tend to be more flamboyantly expressed than Swedish.

"If you come from abroad, you are perhaps used to more sweeping gestures. Take the Italians for example, speaking loudly and extravagantly - then it would be more of a disturbance," he said.

The Equality Ombudsman (DO) told SR that the condition would appear to be dubious and would look into the matter if it received a report.

TT/The Local/pvs (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

08:47 March 8, 2011 by mikewhite
We must be consistent here, and ensure that the staff rest room only had a TV showing Swedish-language programmes, and of course pop music on any radios, with non-Swedish lyrics should be strictly excluded.
08:57 March 8, 2011 by nolikegohome
thank you for letting us know. I suggest that they put up signs in the staff canteen " pls speak in Swedish only" and not for forget " no speaking loudly and no sweeping gestures "

so that the bus drivers do not forget. then they have to employ some fellow to spy on the drivers just to see the law is not broken. (somebody is going to get a job at last)

Im sure everyone will love this new change a lot or am i Wrong?
09:05 March 8, 2011 by Iraniboy
I hope they didn't forget to mention that this law applies IF ONLY THERE ARE MORE THAN TWO OF STAFF otherwise it can be considered discriminatory!
09:15 March 8, 2011 by Rick Methven
"The requirement for the exclusive use of Swedish in all of Keolis' premises and buses "

So if some foreign tourist gets on a bus and asks the driver a question in English/German/French etc., will that driver be sacked for answering him in anything other than Swedish?

Great for tourism ( I think not)
09:19 March 8, 2011 by popein
That poor deaf guy was fired for using sign language...
09:26 March 8, 2011 by truthworthy
This is totally unacceptable, who are they to dictate what language people should speak. These corporations are trying to control our lives as much as possible.
09:27 March 8, 2011 by engagebrain
Swedish at work, yes


a break is not work and you should be free to use any language.

If a worker leaves the workplace during a break, perhaps to meet their partner or children, the company expects them to use only Swedish. Seems unreasonable.
09:33 March 8, 2011 by Hauhr
Joke all you want. There is nothing worse than sitting on the front half of the bus waiting for it to leave the station, headphones on full but all you can hear is the driver babbling in arabic or albanian at super speed and as loud as possible with some friend of his standing outside the door of the bus, smoking and letting all his smoke get on to the bus. So I think it's a great rule and it will make commuting far more pleasant. The friend will go and smoke somewhere else since he cant get to shout at the bus driver in their own language.
09:36 March 8, 2011 by Rick Methven
The guys making this rule should be forced to speak Spanish when on holiday is Spain, at all times,

Asking for a beer in Swedish would mean immediate deportation
09:39 March 8, 2011 by Nemesis
In plain language. SWEDES ONLY.

This new contract will be used to fire non-swedes and to ensure only swedes are hired.

I suppose next they are going to arrange sing songs to raise the spirit of the bus drivers every day by having them sing the Horst Wessel song and Deutschland Under Alles.

This is blatant bigotry, nothing else.
09:52 March 8, 2011 by Keith #5083
"To enable everyone to participate in the workplace all have to be able to understand each other,"

Wake up!

1. Presumably all employees of Swedish transport companies can speak Swedish, if not, what the hell happens in emergencies?

2. The refusal to speak the language of the country where you work and have your

permanent residence is a form of non-acceptance of integration into that society.

3. For those who wish to scream 'discrimination', I totally agree. Swedes are being discriminated against, in their own country, by those who refuse to integrate and scream religion!

blatant bigotry? Yes, but by whom against whom and for what purpose?

Surely, if you accept the help and assistance to create a new life within a new country, the very least you can do is try to integrate when it comes to language.It's in your own interest to do so.
09:56 March 8, 2011 by Joyous
What if one gets a phone call during their break and this call is from a family/friend etc. from their home country, would they be allowed to speak to them in their language on the work place or would they have to find another place to talk or....????

Would it not be better to encourage the employees, to improve in the language it better to speak Swedish on the work place, rather than take drastic actions to fire if they are caught speaking another?

There are many "What ifs" to this new rule in my mind. Am not quite sure how rule like this can function smoothly in a supposed multicultural environment. . Enlightenment PLEASE!!
10:14 March 8, 2011 by Keith #5083
Is it so hard to find another place to speak in privacy?

Is it not easier to learn a foreign language when we cannot simply automatically lapse into our own language? Necessity drives desire in this case. This is a simple, straightforward, rule required as a condition of employment by any and all who seek to be employed by those offering this employment contract.

(Oh, I'm english in Sweden).
10:17 March 8, 2011 by mikewhite
So what if Stockholmers get together and decide some Skånish workers are not speaking Swedish ;-)

Next stage - Bosnian wars !!
10:30 March 8, 2011 by Atlas
A lot of comments...but has anyone actually read the full contract, or is just opinions based on whats written on this article?
10:31 March 8, 2011 by John Wayne
This goes beyond stupid..
10:32 March 8, 2011 by Mib
I believe this would be regarded as discriminatory to non-Swedes and therefore affecting their human right to "free speech". You could also argue that it could be a Health & Safety issue to not allow someone to speak in English for example if they are unable to communicate in Swedish.

I bet that they won't provide Swedish courses to help the non-Swedes learn Swedish. I'm all for encouraging people and pushing them to learn the language, but to make it as part of your employment contract is wrong unless you are in a job that demands fluent Swedish ie. Doctor.

However, I can see it from both sides that the Swedes whose English is not good, would be frustrated to speak to someone who can't speak Swedish. I know I would be if I lived in England and the bus driver only spoke Swedish .0) But, it seems that they have immigrants who can speak Swedish, but choose to talk in their native language. That....I can understand to a point, but not at break times....only while they are working should they speak Swedish.
10:35 March 8, 2011 by bolababu
@ Keith #5083;

Save it! ..funny how everyone blames immigrants about not wanting to integrate when the problem actually lies with Swedes despite everything the government has done to enhance immigration.

An estate agent who is a foreigner lost his job because swedes won't any houses from him or won't even buy a house that they are interested in because foreigners are the sellers or have lived in it.

Boplats won't let foreigners live next to their precious Swedes so they hole them all up together and create a huge ghetto but still expect them to integrate.

Foreigner applies for a job and despite the employer being extremely interested in him, he doesn't get is because the other swedish workers don't think he'd fit properly in their team.

Under-qualified Swedes get better jobs than over-qualified foreigners, regardless of the costs.

Foreigners patronize an after-work bar or club too much and Swedes stop coming so owners try to keep foreigners out to save their business.

All the Swedish population is saying is that they will only accept foreigners on their own terms and i don't see how that helps integration. Everyone should be able to meet somewhere around the middle. If Sweden needs slaves, you know where to buy them from.
10:46 March 8, 2011 by johnny1939
If they decide to live in Sweden they should speak only Swedish. I think it is impolite to speak a language that your coworkers do not understand. I have worked in other countries and made a point of always speaking that language even to another Swede. It is so hard? Why are you in Sweden if this is not acceptable to you? Go to the US where nothing matters and you get lost in the crowd.
10:53 March 8, 2011 by Rick Methven
The employees must be able to speak Swedish to be able to get their PSV (Public service vehicle licence) and will obviously speak Swedish to Swedish passengers on the buses and to their supervisors and Swedish colleagues during working hours.

As breaks are unpaid, this company is setting rules to be obeyed during their free time, which they can not impose. It is OK to make a Swedish while working rule, but to impose a Swedish in your own time rule is not enforceable.

If Swedes think that it is OK to force this rule then they should stop saying YES at every opportunity.

I speak Swedish with Swedes and English/French/Dutch or whatever with other nationalities, and nobody is going to impose a rule that I have to speak Swedish to non Swedes in my free time.
10:56 March 8, 2011 by Puffin
@ Keith #5083

I agree that having a Swedish speaking workplace is reasonable - but where I believe the policy is barking mad is for employers to determine what language employees speak outside working hours

So perhaps you could explain why you believe that the employer has the right to decide what language you speak during your lunch break when staff are not being paid?
10:58 March 8, 2011 by Smartone
Well, if lectures are conducted in English at school, all Swedes student shouldn't be allowed to talk with each other in Swedish during the seminars.

@Johnny1939, I know many Swedes who are lost in crowd in the U.S but still they communicate with each other in Swedish. One has no right to put a language barrier as long as a person isn't at work.
11:18 March 8, 2011 by muscle
Sometime back, USCitizen stated that people tend to trust more and integrate more with the ones they feel are similar to them. This is human nature. well I agree with him. For integration with the society, the language matters the most. I do agree that such practice SHOULD be encouraged, that is speak swedish everywhere (this will promote tight integration with the society) but enforcing such a rule is wrong. You can advise the drivers, to please try to speak swedish (tell them the benefits of single language) but they cant be forced.
11:29 March 8, 2011 by bocagill
i understand to work in sweden you should be able to talk swedish but if you have the skills to talk in other languages then it is great for the person who doent speak swedish getting on the bus or just asking question , if that person speaks that language then he or she should have the right to answer them, i see no problem with this, if you see a problemn with this please explain and try to make sense
11:41 March 8, 2011 by huckleberry

Speak for yourself. Myself and indeed most expats I know have been fully embraced into Swedish society and have found jobs without tooooo much drama.

Sure - sometimes you may have to try harder than 'native swedes' to get things (jobs, houses etc) but surely thats an acceptable aspect of being an immigrant.
11:43 March 8, 2011 by donfabricio
There's a level of unsophistication in this country that often goes beyond the pale when it comes to race relations, pathetic.
11:50 March 8, 2011 by joserayo
There are thousands of Swedes living in Spain, specially concentrated around Malaga. Do anyone know what's the percentage of them who speaks Spanish? Really, really low.

They have their own shops, their own schools, where they don't even speak Spanish to a minimum level even if they have been there for 10 years.

Don't give lessons of integration to anyone, please, we are all the same.
11:51 March 8, 2011 by NEW SWEDE
I completely agree. All staff should be only of Swedish orgin, well if they can and like driving busses=dirty jobs
11:53 March 8, 2011 by hipersons1
Winner is popein. :)
11:55 March 8, 2011 by Dr. Dillner

I like what you state; it makes sense.
12:05 March 8, 2011 by calebian22
Sadly, if this forum is any indication, there will be complaints post-haste. Too bad, considering that it is Sweden, and Swedish is the language of the land.
12:24 March 8, 2011 by bolababu
@ huckleberry;

No you speak for yourself. I was just stating my opinion even though i have a good job that i got after some drama, it doesn't blind me towards the plight of most other immigrants.

I was speaking to my Australian friend a couple of days ago and it broke my heart that as an architect, he earned much less than his Swedish colleagues who spent more work-time drinking coffee just because he didn't speak very-good Swedish. I don't see how that affects his work-input. If you ask me, his Swedish isn't even the worst and he spends his evenings taking Swedish classes.

I would say that laws like this transcend work cooperation especially when you ask people of like backgrounds to speak Swedish in their free-time.

Stop opening your country to immigration if you won't open your hearts to integration.
12:32 March 8, 2011 by tgolan
It' is clearly a violation of the European directive on minority languages and the UN human rights charter
13:08 March 8, 2011 by jackx123
no problem with this since a transport company is dictated by customer service and the majority of the passengers are swedish.

how about traveling on SAS and they crew only speak swedish?? i got news for ya customer service dictates again so a dual language approach is considered the best.
13:10 March 8, 2011 by Puffin
Wonder what happens if the drivers speak Finnish, Yiddish or Sami - aren't these languages protected by law in Sweden?
13:16 March 8, 2011 by Keith #5083

I am an immigrant! So you save it dear friend!


I totally agree with you.


An employer has the right to offer you a contract of employment that meets with the conditions they desire from their employees as long as it is not in conflict with the law of the land. Naturally, you do not have to accept this job and these terms if there is some fundamental objection on your part. Furthermore, you may have your break outside of the employer's premises if you wish, but the employer - who provides all the facilities for you - has the right to set down the conditions for the use of those facilities.

There is nothing strange in this, it happens all over the world. Take your english wife into a Saudi Bank and see what happens (and there you are just a customer not an employee). The owners of the establishment set down the rules of conduct.


Which is the minority language - one spoken by just 9.5 million or one spoken by tens of millions?

I would presume that this employer has some good recent issues reasons for requiring this. Opening your heart to integration is a two way street!
13:35 March 8, 2011 by Rick Methven
@ Keith #5083;

"I would presume that this employer has some good recent issues reasons for requiring this. Opening your heart to integration is a two way street! "

I have nothing against integration after 31 years I think I am very well integrated in to Swedish society and language.

In work terms I full agree with the sole use of Swedish, BUT in my own time, I will not be dictated to as to the language I use. Taking your stupid point of view of "they provide the facilities" to its logical conclusion, Then a cafe owner could put up a talk only Swedish sign in his cafe. My Swedish wife and I often use English together in Public places, and she talks in English to some of her work colleagues during her breaks.
14:14 March 8, 2011 by Syftfel
Many of the commentators above are cleraly liberals and socialists. Their comments try to divert attention from the real issue but inserting irrelevant invective, a classic divessrionary tactic amongst the left. Examples: "Beer in Spanish while on vacation". "Swedes only". "Stupid". "Non Swedish lyrics". Etc. The issue should be viewed as an integrational, cultural issue, where the Swedish only requirement is an excellent tool to force all these people to become Swedish from the inside and out. It will also help in combatting ghettoization, cultural separatism, and generally assist in create a cohesive Sweden. Unfortunatley the liberal, lefty, legal racket stands at the ready with its neurotic shrieks of discrimination and predictable howls of civil rights and other tired marxist nonsense. Here, for once, was a rare opportunity to contribute to Swedish ntegration. But the measure stands little chance of holding up in court. Hence Sweden will continue its decent into a multicultural sewer pipe.
14:23 March 8, 2011 by Jes
... in other words , Swedish is such an inferior un-popular language that people who live and work in Sweden have got to be FORCED to speak it or else ? !

Surely , this has got to be the most idiotic suggestion any sane person can come up with . I thought that KKK did not exist in Sweden !

Next ......., spicy foods from India and Thailand will be banned from Swedish dinning rooms because they don`t smell exactly like the wonderful Swedish meatballs ?

If some Swedes are so uptight with their linguistic complexes , maybe it would be a better idea for them to demand that English should not be one the main subjects in their schools .

Next.......... , Swedisn radios , Radios should STOP playing any music that is not sung in Swedish by Swedes ; TV channels should stop showing all "UNSWEDISH " programmes ?
14:25 March 8, 2011 by Rick Methven

You would be nowhere then. Not living in Sweden and not even able to speak English properly having a very limited vocabulary that you keep writing here. joining up the same old words into gibberish statements.
14:54 March 8, 2011 by Jes
Keith#5083 ,

if you want to talk about "law" you better get prepared for the law to prove how ignorant you are .

Employers are not allowed to prepare contracts any how . Employement contacts must pass the test of legality and common logic .

What these fools are suggesting is a direct infringement on an individuals civil rights . There is no study , scientific or otherwise to back the dangers that this employer talks about . It is arrogantly speculative to say that one can only get loud or gesture while speaking other languages but Swedish .

There is no law that says that if you employ someone , you OWN them
15:01 March 8, 2011 by Syftfel
Yes Methven. You're right as always. But my suggestion is that in this forum you critize ideas, not people. It will garner you a lot greater respect by the readers. Although your own vocabulary is sometimes closer to Farsi than to either English or Swedish.
15:10 March 8, 2011 by HeilNizar
Hehe.. Swedish language anxiety :P

I say all countries should start speaking English and only English.
15:15 March 8, 2011 by Rainer.R
So good that there is always THE LOCAL to read including the comments. My experience with Swedish in general is, they do not see at all how rasistic they are. Ignorance and arrogant attitydes make there days. The SvD (Svenska Dagbladet) started asking their readers today att 11AM if that was OK to only allow Swedish language at work and 68 of a hundred answered "Yes".

Now I understand even that man I met this morning while walking my dog. The man (also walking a dog) saw that my dog with his two different eyes (one is blue, and one is brown). And the man shouted at me "This dog is evil and agressiv, keep it way!". I understood that much Swedish and where lucky to answer in broken Swedish "My God, how stupid you are".
16:08 March 8, 2011 by Beavis
Brommaplan football club introduced similar rules last season, their players were not allowed to talk anything but Swedish to each other. It was so successfull that the team finished bottom and were relegared. Its simply just poor manangement. Their bus driving skills, customer service, arrival times are far more important than having them speak Swedish. What would they prefer Swedish only spaeking rude drivers who refuse to help tourists who dont speak Swedish, drive their busses slowly and are always late? I guess so..
16:37 March 8, 2011 by dbeholder
It baffles me how the local groups their news together. It's as if you're trying really hard to sell something to the idiots that actually believe everything they read in here.
16:41 March 8, 2011 by bolababu
The fact remains that Swedes feel threatened by anything they do not understand. If it isn't Swedish in looks or culture, if it doesn't sound or feel Swedish, it is bad.
18:07 March 8, 2011 by nolikegohome
my family and my friends family are boycotting this bus transport system unless they admit they made a mistake and apologise.
18:10 March 8, 2011 by Uncle

Where is it different? Why swedes SHOULD be different from anyone else?

In the rest of Europe except England and Denmark one does not need any laws because nobody will answer the foreigner, but in the native language.

Why the swedes must accept leaving next door to 40 somalians and love it? Why should they be delighted to go to bars that are filled with Sudanese?

What are these requirements on swedes? And why these requirements do not apply for those countries these foreigners are coming from?
18:19 March 8, 2011 by Douglas Garner
I agree that it is important to be able to communicate in Swedish at the workplace on all things relevant, including safety and emergencies. It is also beneficial to be reasonably competent in other common languages... such as English which is also the most recognized language in the business world and a required subject through the Swedish education system.

Swedish dialects and related national languages including Sami, Finish, Skånska should certainly be considered an additional benefit when hiring, espcially for regional positions. Foreign common languages are also beneficial such as Arabiska, Spanska, Tysk, Franska, etc. and should also be given merit.

Employees should be encouraged to exercise their speaking of foreign languages... but should also be able to participate in company interactions. If the firm has a broad range of mother tounges within its staff, perhaps they should consider bilingual meetings... English and Swedish - throw in sign language for good measure!
18:33 March 8, 2011 by Lukestar1991
"If you come from abroad, you are perhaps used to more sweeping gestures. Take the Italians for example, speaking loudly and extravagantly - then it would be more of a disturbance," he said.
18:51 March 8, 2011 by mojofat
This was a "well-meaning" initiative? Wow, I'd hate to see what they do when they're intentionally trying to ostracize people.

BTW, will this company also make a rule as to how people should wipe their rear? Back to front? Front to back?
19:24 March 8, 2011 by BobBob
Dear 'Hauhr'

You say you're the guy 'Sitting on the bus... headphones on full'. Yeah... I'm the guy sitting quietly behind you having to tolerate your 'sjalviska' cacophony. Cheers.
20:33 March 8, 2011 by waffen
"When in Rome, do as Romans do" seems like the best fit.

Otherwise, you are free to leave Sweden and their Swedish language behind.

Have a good trip.
21:17 March 8, 2011 by dan_sparrow
waffen not without my crowns ,hahah im here for the money not for the language, and i got enough with 4 languages why another one?

btw, nice neo nazi nickname the one ur sportin, geek
21:32 March 8, 2011 by mikewhite
Note to headline writer: the term is "backs down"
21:50 March 8, 2011 by Smartone
@Waffen : You're absolutely right leave Sweden and their Swedish language behind? But why don't you leave the middle east or it's neighboring countries? Have a nice trip to back home!
22:48 March 8, 2011 by kenny8076
lol so Sweden wants nothing but immigrants to come here, they just don't want you to act like immigrants
23:16 March 8, 2011 by Keith #5083
#Rick M - my point is not, as you say stupid, for in many countries you are required to honour their code of conduct in public places. I quoted Saudi.Perhaps you didn't read that.

#Jes - I did not say employers could prepare contracts anyhow! Try reading instead of assuming.

Integration is not simply a matter of the host country making concessions!
00:32 March 9, 2011 by LeoKinmann

"Which is the minority language - one spoken by just 9.5 million or one spoken by tens of millions?"

You clearly misunderstood the context here. We are not talking about which language is minority language in the worldwide perspective, but only in Sweden. Take Chinese for example. Despite being the biggest ethnic group(s) in absolute number on a global scale they are a minority in Sweden.
02:52 March 9, 2011 by ITkiwi
It's hard not to be just a little understanding of the intent here - albeit perhaps not executed/communicated in the most appropriate manner. We will probably see some sort of clarification in the future once exact details of the contract wording are known.
06:25 March 9, 2011 by hammad674
Don't understand Swedes ever, Integration is not an immediate process and can never be forced. If Swedes are not welcoming to Foreign Immigrants, tourist or Students, simply ban them and proceed somehow to cancel their status and send them back or handed over them to EU to settle them somewhere else.

And Secondly all the Swedes who moved to Norway, Denmark, US and Middle East come back to Sweden to make Sweden "Swedes and Svenska" Region only. There will be no problem afterward. No burden on Kommunes (for feeding Immigrants, No SFI, No further burden of Tax on Swedes, No further Crime, and most important Happy Swedes).

That is the simplest solution to Swedes Dilemma, But don't introduced some crazy rules.
08:05 March 9, 2011 by Thomas Dolby
I speak english everywhere in Sweden, except in the backwards small towns, where there still stuck in the 70's.

Last time I checked, over 80 percent of Swedes understand the English language, especially the new generation. This is mostly due to the influence of the media, ie: American/British Television and Films.

I'm seeing that the news paper and mail advertisements using English.

If these bus drivers signed a contract, then they're SOL. But I support their right to speak whatever language they like when they are 'Off-the-Clock', or during 'Un-paid' breaks.

Eventually, English WILL be THE majority language in Sweden, it's just a matter of a few generations, all others will be secondary.
08:36 March 9, 2011 by Rick Methven

You still do not get it do you.

It is nothing to do with integration, the bus drivers are licensed in Sweden and working in a Swedish environment using the Swedish language. What this rule by the company is doing is to dictate to it's employees what there of duty behaviour should be. anybody who is not a native Swede, is always more able to express himself in his native tongue irrespective of the level of fluency he has in Swedish. I speak 6 languages with varying levels of fluency and I can converse well in all of them but still revert to my native English to express myself best.

What this company is saying that two say Italians working for the company must talk about last nights Milan/Inter match in Swedish rather than Italian, because they are to flamboyant in their native tongue and all that during a off duty period in a canteen where they will have to pay for food and drink.

If you are will a fellow native English speaker in a Sweden do you insist that you converse in Swedish to be seen to be integrated?

AND if you are so keen on the use of Swedish, why the hell is your blogspot about Sweden in English? and with photos nicked from The Local
08:41 March 9, 2011 by Keith #5083

Kind Sir, no, I did not misunderstand. I was simply trying to make a contextual point. It's all a question of where you stand as to what you see. If you stand at a point of viewing integration as an 'undesirable' thing, then you will always try to find all possible excuses to justify it.

My wife and I have personal experience with a treasured young friend whose family effectively forbid him to integrate. You can take a horse to water,but you cannot make it drink!

#Thomas Dolby

I am english and have had a property here for 22+ years. I still find it almost impossible to go anywhere and speak Swedish - because as soon as Swedes hear my accent they launch into english.They tell me they love to practice their english.
11:38 March 9, 2011 by Jes
Keith#5083 , I don`t read what you write ; I read what you mean .

You were obviously of the opinion that employers are free to attach any condition to their job offers . For that reason , you supported these idiotic bus operator`s suggestion to ban other languages other than Swedish .

Luckily , they have just realized that theirs was not only a stupid idea , but one that could land them in legal trouble .

Swedish is a beutiful language , thats for sure . What needs to be done is to find out why a lot of immigrants don`t like speaking it.
11:52 March 9, 2011 by Bille
My fellow locals. I can see this debate is going back and forth to no where. I work there as a bus driver. Let me break it down for you. This issue began a couple of weeks ago. A Kurdi bus driver was speaking arabic and kurdi to some colleagues of his at his break time. One of the bosses came in and told him he should only speak swedish and nothing else. The Kurd got furious and told him that it does not state in his contract that he should speak swedish during his breaks. He also added that it was his break time and he can do whatever he wants during his break. This argument got so intense that TV4 and SR were involved.

The Union came in and sided with the boss. This issue was over heard by Keolis and they added it to their policy.

Having said that, there are a couple things to note. Most of those who work there are foreigners i.e Arabs, Bosnians, Kosovars, Russians, Somalis, Danish, Norwegians etc. It would be natural to find fellow countrymen speaking the same language. But mostly what happens is if two are speaking and a third comes in, we usually change the language back to swedish for reasons which are obvious.

The other issue to note is, most of the Swedish who work here tend to sit together bundled up in a corner eating by themselves. If someone who's not of the same 'feature' sits besides them, they tend to move somewhere else or stop what they were talking about all together.

Lastly, I have been to many countries, I've seen swedish and other foreigners working abroad. The minute they see a fellow swede they talk swedish with zeal and zest. At the work place, mind you.

This issue has nothing to do with discrimination at all. At work obviuosly one has to speak the language but at your own free time, one has to have the freedom to do what they please. Thor, the facket head says, during lunch the workers tend to speak different language which creates confusion, that's pure baloney. That argument defeats its own self. What if everyone spoke the same language? There would still be confusion.

All in all, we need to learn from one another. Respect for the other is the key.
13:25 March 9, 2011 by Keith #5083

My blog is there to promote Sweden - outside of Sweden and to describe my 'swedish experience'. Photos 'nicked' from thelocal would be a fair comment if the photos were NOT attributed. which they mostly are. It's also a way of promoting thelocal! Of course, there are many pics that are not from the local, but you fail to mention those, huh? Hey, but thx for visiting it :)

Oh, and please tell me where in all I have written on this comment board I have, as you postulate 'been so keen on the use of Swedish'.? I am keen on an employer being able to dictate terms of employment (within the laws of the land) and of 'integration' being viewed from both perspectives.


thx. However, I did state that employers were only free to give conditions that were lawfully permitted here in Sweden

BIG thx #bille - at last we get info as to what this is actually about. thx.thx. Interesting the union's viewpoint.
13:42 March 9, 2011 by Jes
Keith#5083 ,

okay then ! Note the fact that it is not "lawfully permitted " to force anybody to integrate . Freedom of association also frees one from not associating if they chose not to .

Lets face it : Sweden is slowly and surely becoming a multi-cultral society . Progressive employers need to adjust accordingly .

I just hope that there will not be another foolish employer who suggests that in order to eliminate sexual harrassement against women employees , all women staff should STOP wearing make -up or well cut skirts .
13:43 March 9, 2011 by Rick Methven


Now you have had the low down, do you still uphold the right/justification for the companies position?
14:15 March 9, 2011 by mieoux
Make that "backs down", not backs. I am not into correcting other people's use of language, but that mistake changes the entire meaning of the sentence.
16:22 March 9, 2011 by Keith #5083

I uphold the right of employers to set the terms of their contracts of employment provided such contract is within the law of the country - and of prospective employees to decline to accept such a contract if they wish.There are recent cases where employers have done this during training, the employee accepted, and then after training the employee causes court action against the employer.

I note the fact that in this case, the union 'sided with the boss'.

I note the fact that a heated argument had taken place and that the employee himself had drawn to the company's attention that it was not stated in his contract that he must speak Swedish in the Swedish workplace.

ergo, the company's position was fairly simple - the authority of the company manager was challenged publicly and the company moved to remove such challenges in the future doubtless to try and create less disharmony..I don't actually think this is anything to do with the language but is everything to do with the manager's authority in the workplace. Equally, we do not really know if the manager told the employee, suggested to the employee or asked the employee.

But of course it is a modern trend to always fault the employer!


It is lawfully required that such things as 'forced marriages' do not occur is it not? Is that not a legalised attempt to enforce integration?
16:55 March 9, 2011 by Rick Methven

As the worker said, rightly so, that there was nothing in his contract that said he had to speak Swedish in his own time if the new operator wants to impose the new rule, they will have to sack all of the drivers and get them to sign new agreements. If they try that trick, I'm sure the Union would suddenly change it's mind. Plus the company would be take to the European court of human rights and end up paying vast amounts of compensation.

The funny thing is that the old operator Arriva has got a very bad reputation as far as workers rights and conditions. It seems that the local Keolis boss wants to be the new bad boy on the block.

At the end of the day it will never be imposed. The Company directors are against it, The DO thinks it is most probably illegal which leaves Union head Thor Tärnbring, Social Democrat MP Peter Persson. and YOU
18:18 March 9, 2011 by mieoux
"speaking loudly and extravagantly" hahahaha! Come to think of it it's not easy to speak Swedish loudly, it just feels weird, compared with English where you can belt out to the best of your ability, wave your arms around, jump up and down and even fall down and roll around on the floor. You know I have not heard anyone laugh loudly in public here in Sweden, and once this guy on the train said something so funny, I couldn't even breathe, but he was just sitting there all calm and straight faced and I was convulsing, squealing and going into hiccups. It was still funny after I got off the train but apparently people think it's weird if you are alone and you are laughing loudly. I mean what are you gonna do, go into a bathroom laugh loudly and then come out? That's even more weird.
00:42 March 10, 2011 by Bille
I work for Arriva now. They'll be going out on the 18th June. I just signed the new Keolis contract and they told me they backed off due to controversiality. The personnel manager told me there was a bit of a misunderstanding. When two are talking in a foreign language and a third or a fourth comes in, it's prudent two change to a universal language, thus swedish. I told him that I agreed but it should'nt have good too far as to jot down a contract. Talking to the drivers would've sufficed. He agreed with me and said he'll talk to us. Keolis is way better than Arriva when it comes to Jönköping. Arriva had a swedish language only policy but it was just oral. No one took it seriously. I believe one has the right to speak the language they choose. As long as it does not infringe the rights of others. i.e feel as if they're talking behind their backs or feels alienated That's my policy.
07:44 March 10, 2011 by Keith #5083

Many thx again for putting this whole thing in context. Your attitude is exactly where I stand, though others seem to think otherwise.

I have been amazed and impressed by the courtesy of Swedes to 'include' me in the conversation by switching to english.Maybe they just wanted to practice, or maybe it was just good manners. In any event I was rarely excluded.


It seems you suppose I am anti civil rights, racist or simply bonkers.OK, you have that right. However, as we now learn and I suspected, there was a policy in force - albeit an oral policy - and for some reason (or provocation) this manager felt the need to request that the policy be honoured. As previously stated, the vehement response of the employee was a challenge to the authority of the manager. Perhaps it was the volume, perhaps it was petty jealousies, whatever.

Anyone who has been a personnel manager is aware of the nuances. Is not the purpose of the 'break' to allow a period of restful relaxation? In defending the rights of one we should not cast away the rights of many.Wouldn't you agree?
10:04 March 10, 2011 by Rick Methven

I do not think that you are anti civil rights, a racist or bonkers, I just think that you have not looked at the total ramifications of such a policy.

As long as the employee does the work he s required to do correctly then that is all a company can expect of him. To sack him because he does not conform to the way you want him to behave in his own time is the thin end of the wedge. get away with the imposition of one rule could embolden the company to impose other rules to force other behaviour upon its workforce under the threat of loosing your job.

I have been on the receiving end of just such a policy when I worked in Holland. A new CEO decided that as it was a Dutch company that everything should be done in Dutch, internally and externally. All the non-Dutch workers where happy with using only Dutch in spoken and written communications but this CEO wanted to impose the Dutch only rule beyond the company. The upshot of his ruling resulted in the company going under within 3 years as he forced out all the non-Dutch talent and surrounded himself with yes men who told him that everything in the garden was rosy when in fact the fire was licking at the walls.
11:16 March 10, 2011 by Jes

no, banning "forced marriages" is not a legalised attempt to enforce integration . If the key word is "forced" , it means that one breaks the law by forcing one party to associate with another party through marriage .

In fact what the bus company was attempting to do was the same as forcing its employees to "marry " a language of the company`s choice .

As I said ,that idea is an infrigement on a persons civil rights.

The bus idiots should also consider this : every ice-hocky team in Sweden , every football team in Sweden, every basket team in Sweden has a player that cannot speak Swedish . Does this mean that these teams cannot perform ?

What about in the arts and music industry ?
15:40 March 10, 2011 by Rick Methven
"The bus idiots should also consider this : every ice-hocky team in Sweden , every football team in Sweden, every basket team in Sweden has a player that cannot speak Swedish . Does this mean that these teams cannot perform ?"

Not only players how about non-Swedish coaches and managers
16:14 March 10, 2011 by prince T
The fact remains that Swedes feel threatened by anything they do not understand. If it isn't Swedish in looks or culture, if it doesn't sound or feel Swedish, it is bad.@bolababu

You cannot say it better Bolabalu. Or you will be asked to go away if you are not happy with it. That is why Sweden is loosing in the following area:

Our judiciary was embarrassed in Uk recently.

Most of the swedish trained foreign students are in Denmark, Canada and Norway. I have friends that are their. They would never have been able to get similar jobs in sweden.

19:58 March 10, 2011 by technoviking
Having a Swedish policy during actual work makes sense... but on break time? That seems a bit intrusive.
04:34 March 11, 2011 by Marc the Texan
Rather than making a big deal over the language, require employees to have good or excellent communication skills. If they are unable to communicate with colleagues and customers efficiently then sack them. No specific language requirement needed. Solely based on effective communication within the organization. Problem solved.
04:55 March 11, 2011 by mitsos
Technoviking is right!

Break time is free to be enjoyed by the workers speaking any language they like.

Swedish is a language derived from German and is the mother of English as the 3 languages have the same irregular verbs and they go from 3 genders to 2in Swedish to 1 gender in English making English the simplest and still the richest language in our planet.
09:37 March 11, 2011 by hughknows
Is it me or is this headline more Swinglish than English? The preposition doesn't really fit making it ambiguous as to whether they've backed away or given their backing. Now I've seen the content of the article, it seems like it could work as 'backs out' on/of, or 'backs away' from the former position. Especially with the other possible meaning of 'backs' being the exact opposite in this case - i.e. to gives one's support.
21:05 March 12, 2011 by waffen
dan sparrow

Vapnade ar vad Waffen innebar.

Varfor namnet ringer?

Sweden is full of people who come here for the money only, and there are many Swedes who wish that they did not.

Go the the States. All that they care about there is money.

Your four languages will hold you in good stead there , especially so should one of them be Farsi.
22:52 March 14, 2011 by dan_sparrow

well farsi its not a bad language but no, im not from iran and im not interested in that language, but i do speak other languages 4 example portuguese, spanish, english and italian...

anyway i dont care if many swedes dont want me to be not be interested in the money i pay my taxes more than others cuz i have a company... u should be proud of foreigns paying to skatteverket the 50% of their income so ignorants like u can make a living getting pay checks stayin at home
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