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Factory worker sacked for rolling up his pants

2 Oct 2012, 08:59

Published: 02 Oct 2012 08:59 GMT+02:00

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"I'm never setting my foot in there again. I've been forced out," Anders Sjöblom told the Aftonbladet newspaper.

Sjöblom's bitterness comes after being unceremoniously sacked from his job at a packaging plant located in Skene in southern Sweden run by forestry giant Stora Enso where he has worked since 1974.

The reason: he liked to work with his pant-legs rolled up.

For most of Sjöblom's career with Stora Enso, the practice of rolling up his pants to let a little fresh air flow over his calves wasn't seen as a problem.

"It's warm. And it's much easier to climb up and down on the annoying stairs where I work," he told the Dagens Arbete newspaper in September.

But in June, the plant implemented a new and stricter dress code in the name of workplace safety that stipulated employees must wear long pants.

However, long pants rolled up to just below the knee were not acceptable, Sjöblom learned.

Over the summer, he was given a number of verbal and written warnings instructing him to leave his pant-legs rolled down.

But Sjöblom had trouble letting go of his well-worn habit.

"I rolled up my pants like always this morning. Then the boss came in and sent me home and I was given my notice," he told Dagens Arbete in early September.

"I was so pissed off. At some point, someone has to take a stand."

While Sjöblom's union took issue with the grounds for his dismissal, on Monday the decision became official: he had been fired.

"It was expected. I'm not especially surprised," he told the paper, adding that he felt the company was run by "fascists".

"It feels great to stand up for what you believe in," he said.

Story continues below…

A union representative to Dagens Arbete they planned to take the matter to court if Stora Enso doesn't reverse the decision.

"It hasn't been proven that employers have the right to put these kinds of demands on staff," union rep Magnus Leson told the paper.

The Local/dl

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Your comments about this article

09:43 October 2, 2012 by occassional
Thank heaven this is about trousers. The image of rolled up pants is quite disturbing in a sort of Russian-tourist-in-Turkey-all-inclusive-resort sort of way.
10:04 October 2, 2012 by Keith #5083
Did I get this right? The guy had been given many warnings and still couldn't follow through?

Now he's gonna 'make a stand' saying someone has to make a stand. Well, it looks to me like the employer made a stand.

I am absolutely,totally in favour of stopping big bad capitalist from abusing workers,but,wait a minute, the reason for this new rule is the safety of the workers,huh?We have to take a stand against ruthless employers insisting on standards for our own safety! huh?
10:42 October 2, 2012 by procrustes
I bet this guy was a general pain in the neck and this was the legal point that let them get rid of him.
11:30 October 2, 2012 by Dogs_Gonads
I am a union rep and I would agree on his termination.

If your employer has a dress code which most have, then you stick to it. Was the request by the employer to implement a new dress code unreasonable, no.

Having a stab in the dark here , I bet this guy is the other side of 60 and will find it very difficult to find further employment.

Don't start getting a cavalier attitude after working there for 38 years. You can be dismissed from employment right up to the day before you retire.
11:58 October 2, 2012 by rob582
"It feels great to stand up for what you believe in," he said. He also added the it felt great to be unemployed at 59 as there are plenty of jobs out there for a man who will stand up for what he believes in.
12:36 October 2, 2012 by Scepticion
Hmm, so unions fight for decades for better work safety. Then the union defends a guy who doesn't follow the safety guidelines, i.e. "It hasn't been proven that employers have the right to put these kinds of demands on staff," union rep Magnus Leson".

If of course an accident would have happened because of this (e.g., he stumbled because of his rolled up pants and fell down the stairs), the unions would have slammed the plant for not looking after the safety of the workers.

You can't have it both ways.
13:46 October 2, 2012 by Flutterbye
"It feels great to stand up for what you believe in," he said.

Idiot, methinks he has been a pain in the a*** for some time and the company jumped at the opportunity to get rid of him, not the brightest star in the sky is he to lose his job at 59 still I guess he will now claim dole money.
13:51 October 2, 2012 by foxpur
@Dogs_Gonads : By definition the rules just says he has to wear pants.. by definition he was. To chose to real them rolled up vs. rolled down would have to proved a hazard in relation to that trade (which it haszn't) otherwise it is against the compant to enforce the rule because he was meeting guidelines.

Being a older type employee I have seen companies look for any excuse to remove someone so they dont have to pay for having a "experienced" emplyee. I have been refused employment for being over qualified because I am older tham most of the emloyees. There are sever cases I have seen related happen.

Should he follow the rules: Yes.

Should those rules make sense with proof: Yes

Should he be fired with all those years of skills: No

The company failed to work it out and work with their employee... rather than work on a solution they fired him. So the Union Rep's responsibility is to step in and mediate (It is actually a Union Rep's job @Dogs_Gonads, I would suggest looking for a job you know your own rules)
18:05 October 2, 2012 by skogsbo
foxpur, you presume his was skilled and in demand. There could be 99% of other employees more than able to pick up his work. At least a youngster who is willing to follow company policy might get a job now and the this jobs work will go elsewhere.

Now that he has gone public, another factory is less likely to take him on, as he is likely to cause them extra admin. The company him more than enough warnings. I bet he would be the type to complain if he injured his lower legs because of the lack of legware regulations, had the rules been the other way around. Union jobs worth no doubt.

He can now make his stand in the jobs queue.
22:19 October 2, 2012 by MWolf
First and foremost, I am not an American trying to tell you how to run your country. I am a persecuted, enslaved American trying to warn my ancestral homeland not to become what America has become - a land far more evil than Nazi Germany (I say America is more evil because at least Nazi Germany had the "decency" to humanely kill their unwanted. In America, we let them rot and die on the streets, and kick them when they are down.)

What this story represents is the beginning of corporations taking over your lives. And while it may seem like a good idea to have workers conform to the demands of the workplace; that notion completely neglects the most basic needs of humans, and in fact puts the economy over the needs of the society. Capitalism; which breeds this kind of greed (and is based on a completely flawed argument*), is at odds with the needs of a society. Capitalism requires profit. And profit is different than compensation. The worker here received compensation, the corporation which fired him profits from exploiting labor and natural resources.

Haven't any of you ever thought "where does profit come from"?

If compensation is for labor and expertise, what is profit? It is the result of waste, of exploitation of labor and natural resources, pure and simple. Profit is wasteful, detrimental to society. To believe otherwise simply means you do not understand what profit is.

Sweden should stand behind this man. He is a human being, participating in the labor necessary to build a society (or is he? Is lumber necessary? Is it being utilized efficiently and sustainably to the benefit of all of society now and in the future?) A human being takes precedent over a corporation, and humans and society take precedent over an economy.

Please do not forget where our priorities lie. We weren't born with money, we do not need money to survive. Why has it become more important than life itself? Did you not understand the lessons of "Songs from the Second Floor?"
00:29 October 3, 2012 by Svensksmith
He should have rolled up his shirtsleeves and gotten to work.
21:49 October 3, 2012 by B.olesen
They made the fake safety rule specifically to harass this man.
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