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Swedish fire service sued over affirmative action

TT/Clara Guibourg · 8 Jul 2011, 10:42

Published: 08 Jul 2011 10:42 GMT+02:00

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The fire deparment's gender and ethnicity quota became an unpleasant surprise for Simon Wallmark, who was informed that despite having trained as a firefighter, he was not encouraged to apply for a summer job, on account of being Swedish and male.

"The response I got from Södertörn was that I wasn't qualified to apply for the summer jobs, because the jobs were reserved for women and people with an immigrant background," said Simon Wallmark to SR.

He agrees that there is a need for more women and immigrants in the field, but argues that the recruiting should be done some other way.

Out of the 32 people finally hired by the fire department, 10 lacked the relevant education for the job.

The case is now being taken to court by Stockholm-based Centre for Justice (Centrum för Rättvisa).

"This is a case of a Swedish man who has been denied the same chances as others, just on account of being a Swedish man" Anna Rogalska-Hedlund, lawyer at Centre for Justice, told SR.

The agency has past experience of cases against affirmative action, and are now demanding 100,000 kronor ($16,000) for the discrimination, on Wallmark's behalf.

Story continues below…

The fire department's manager Anders Edstam has no regrets about the recruiting, explaining that they made a conscious choice to include women and immigrants, and that those recruits lacking the necessary education will be receiving it through the job.

TT/Clara Guibourg (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

11:22 July 8, 2011 by johnny1939
Discrimination in all its glory!!!!! It seems Swedes have to go to the States to get a job these days.
11:56 July 8, 2011 by helveeta
Affirmative action is tricky. The problem with it is that the people are often not skilled enough for the job. Then they can't be fired because they can claim discrimination.
11:58 July 8, 2011 by axiom
This is discrimination.

All discrimination is unacceptable, PERIOD.

You can't reserve jobs for a group, or a type.

vacancy announced, person applies, person has right skills, person gets job.

This idea of positive discrimination is nothing more than hogwash. If people want to be hired, they gain the skills, get educated and find a job, PERIOD.
12:16 July 8, 2011 by Central European
Dull morning of Levelled Europe isn´t it ?

Everything must be well justified.

What ´d be the next steps ?

Short people prolonged ?

Long people reduced ?

Too smart stupefied ?

Hawk eyed added some dioptries by laser ?

Well as far as I remeber first funny indication that gender is a specific sell killer disease of rich, healthy and satiated societes was the sue of sweden young ladies who found not to be admitted to university, becouse there would be more then 50 percent ladies, so university registered more young swedish man to make the gender balance :)

Isn´´t it good fun ?
12:44 July 8, 2011 by Dr. Dillner
Let us not hire the most qualified, let us fill some *STUPID* quota.
12:58 July 8, 2011 by Scott McCoy
@Johnny1939,,A swede couldn't work in the States,with there attitude of its not in my contract,they wouldn't last one day.
13:24 July 8, 2011 by alecLoTh
I'll be the self-nominated Devil's Advocate here as I fear this thread will be full of nationalistic views very soon...here goes, I'll argue for the immigrants.

I read somewhere that it takes an immigrant 7 years to get a job in Sweden. In all that time how do they survive? It is in the bst interest of the host society to integrate these people pronto for theme to learn the language and customs, pay tax, regain dignity and assimimlate.

The alternative is to marginalize them, alienate them, ridicule and belittle them for being on the dole and so on....leading to untold amount of social ills, 'friction' and downright animosity.

Pick your poison
13:38 July 8, 2011 by Lostaussie
@glamshek, apart from your post making little sense, I would think from your comments your the racist! Typical of tea totllers I guess :)
14:14 July 8, 2011 by Central European
alecLoth :

Firstly I am not swedish, am not in sweden and I am not a racicst, nacionalist etc....

To say that opposite opinion is racist, nationalist (nacist), chauvinist or the reactionary is the most easy way how to kill any discussion about ordinary troubles of nowadays life in wealthy European and Nort America countries.....

What are the ordinary troubles in these days ? Plenty of them, long list etc...

Unfortunately the most wide increasing trouble is just to speak openly about the life and its troubles, call the items and things naturaly and to be a simply average member of majority.

Make myself a century tyranised minority !

Thats the way !

And my questions are : do we have enough majority to keep all minorities happy ? Do we have enough responsible for all the bad things from our history? Do we have enough apologies to be ordinary white males :D?
14:41 July 8, 2011 by Zeffanyx
Swedes, that's what you wanted. Go away to US, let Sweden be populated by by the worst.

Don't agree? Then you're racist, facist, nationalist...
16:02 July 8, 2011 by calebian22

All the Swedes I work with are hard working. 8 hour days are not normal, 10 to 12 are. You're bigoted fool who probably doesn't have a job because of your attitude shining through at your interviews. You have no desire to integrate and don't have a clue either.

Quotas are crap. The best qualified for the job, especially firemen. If that is all white males, so be it.
16:17 July 8, 2011 by eddie123
hmm... let's not go down the affirmative action route. it does nothing but encourage mediocrity under the guise of creating equality. as this case shows, there is no wisdom is sacrificing merit on the altar of mediocrity. let employment policies be based on qualification, level of experience and merit.
16:42 July 8, 2011 by insect
Did everyone who read this story miss the part about the company hiring both women and immigrants?

The comments seem to be concentrated on only the immigrants and sorry to say, it says a lot about the objectivity in this forum.
17:10 July 8, 2011 by eddie123
@insect: how does that diminish the fact that a qualified person was overlooked for a position because the fire department was senselessly pursuing affirmative action. the idea is that minorities (women, immigrants) or sub groups with less representation within the fire department were encouraged to apply and were employed ahead of qualified and competent persons. that's the issue here and the fellow is right in suing.
20:43 July 8, 2011 by Central European
insect :

well your comment is nice example seems that "wishes are parents of thoughts" :( .

I ´ve found the 7 comment where is nothing about the immigrants.

Question : do you really think that among the immigrants are the men only ?
20:46 July 8, 2011 by johan rebel
The Swedish fire services, as well as the national supervisory authority Räddningsverket (now MKB) have been trying hysterically for almost ten years now to hire more female firefighters, by lowering the entry requirements in necessary. This seems to be far more important than anything else, such as rescuing victims and extinguishing fires. Who cares if a fire fighter is competent, right? As long as it is a female who cannot carry an unconscious victim, or a guy how can't understand or speak Swedish, everything is just fine!

The authorities are getting increasingly desparate, because for some strange and incomprehensible reason far fewer girls than guys want to become fire fighters. They seem to prefer nursing and stuff.
20:52 July 8, 2011 by glamshek

I do have a clue. Stop your brainwashing. It gets you nowhere. The Arab wrld is undergoing an Islamic rebirth and so should whole world. I believe its a miracle how the world is changing in favour of the truth.
21:27 July 8, 2011 by Central European
Johan, there is a firebrigades gender open competition in my country( Iron Fireman) .

Three times there was a woman in competition in 10 ears

The problem is that they shloud transport 80 kg figurine, hit 100x with 7 kg hammer the concret block, carry two 20 kg kanysterm jump over 2,20 m tall wall and go to 26th floor of building.

All done in oxygen mask with bomb and with all the fireman staff on ( +20kg)

The best time of lady was 37 minut... the best time of man was 9 minutes....

So if the lady has 50-60 kg she can be good fireman but mostly not stron enough to carry out the 80-100 kg old lady from building in fire....

and that is all about...
21:45 July 8, 2011 by mkvgtired
Glamshek, the Arab world is hardly the beacon of civilization you make it out to be. In fact the only "free" country in the Middle East is Israel, and I have a feeling I already know your stance on that country.

21:58 July 8, 2011 by insect
@eddie 123

It does not diminish that fact at all. What I was trying to point out is that everybody seems to be dwelling on the fact that immigrants were hired when the story clearly stated it was both women and immigrants.

@ Central European

The article did not specify if the women were immigrants and I am sure if they were immigrants, then the article would have talked about ONLY
22:19 July 8, 2011 by Central European

well still i think majority of comments is not about the immigrants only :)

To be honest I think that majority of nowadays swedish immigrants keeps their women home.......
04:46 July 9, 2011 by jomamas
If there aren't enough jobs, then why does Sweden have immigrants in the first place?

Is it Sweden's job to employ all of Africa, Asian and Arabia.

Look around folks, there won't be a Sweden in 60 years. Sure, a few people may speak it, there will be a few old buildings that are perhaps Swedish, but that's the end of it.

The Communists will destroy culture until they have achieve their goal of 'world homogeneity' , and then culture will be replaced by consumerism.

The Right and the Left are implicit conspirators on this one.

Stop mass immigration now - if we want to help Somalis, then foreign direct investment is the best way.
09:09 July 9, 2011 by calebian22

Saying the Middle East is going through an Islamist (purposeful use of Islamist and not Islamic) is true. Religion and politics don't mix well however. They never have and they never will. Saying it is the truth the whole world needs to adhere to is rubbish. Who is doing the brainwashing?
10:03 July 9, 2011 by peruzzijay
Wow, i didn't know that alot of Swedes do comment on articles in Thelocal. Well, its not suprising to see that almost everyone is talking about the discrimination on a white, male Swede. i think this is just because of the fact that the fire service has grown some balls to try to balance the employment quota.

But why are these Swedes not talking about the women also mentioned in the article; it seems that everyone just realized that there is discrimination in the employment system. This has been happenning to IMMIGRANTS for ages. PLZ go to arbetsförmedlingen Mr Simon Wallmark and find another job.
04:27 July 12, 2011 by DamnImmigrant
The real issue is whether the standards are being lowered to bring diversity. Firefighting is hard dangerous work. In the States, many MEN, not to mention women, could not pass the physical tests needed to become firefighters. The physical standards had to be lowered to get the necessary quota of women. When the standards are set to unreasonable levels, I believe it is OK to change them to a more realistic level. Likewise, were the levels lowered so much as to put the public in danger?

I think there also might be a problem with certain cultures refusing to do something, such as some type of rescue operation, because it is seen as against their religion. I have NO problem with anyone taking on a job provided they can do the job in its entirety without reservation.

In the article discussed here, the fire department was clearly WRONG. The advertised position should have clearly stated MINORITIES and WOMEN ONLY!

It is scary if they actually turned away a more qualified applicant in favor of a LESS qualified one.
18:11 September 5, 2011 by michaelgrossi
I'm a Canadian and I've been to Sweden and its a beautiful country. I'm also on the recruiting program as a fire fighter here in my own country. I'm an architect but have always wanted to become a firefighter. I'm trained and certified in technical rescue including high angle, confined space, trench and swift water to name a few. I can't speak as a Swede but I can tell you that we have similar issues here at home with regards to employment quotas but in my opinion only the best should be qualified to obtain a position as a firefighter. I left a career in architecture for firefighting, went to the fire academy and even obtained all my rescue certificates at my own expense in order obtain all the necessary and important skills to become a properly trained firefighter. Firefighting is a skilled and dangerous profession and your life and the lives of your company or crew is put in danger almost all of the time whether its on the fire scene or in training. Only skilled and qualified people should be hired. Men, women and minorities alike should consider obtaining all the necessary credentials and should only be hired on their skills as a firefighter.
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