“It’s a welcome and wise decision,” said Lars-Anders Häggström, head of retail workers trade union Handels, which has argued that Swedish pension money be kept clear of companies that are “world leaders in union busting”. Freedom of assembly and association is protected by the conventions of the International Labour Organization (ILO).
Contributions to the state-managed pension scheme in Sweden are managed by several distinct funds, entitled collectively the AP Funds (AP-fonderna). The first, third and fourth of the six separate investment entities owned shares in Walmart, but they will now be sold off according to a statement released on Monday.
“We simply couldn’t conceive why the AP Funds would invest in Walmart, when their behaviour is well-known,” Häggström told The Local
In early September, Handels, which represents 150,000 employees in the Swedish retail sector, addressed an open letter to the AP Funds’ Ethics Council asking that it look into the investments in the American retail giant, saying that owning shares was “so stupid it is embarrassing” as well as “unethical”.
“Our union members have expressed astonishment when they found out their pension savings were invested in Walmart,” Häggström told The Local. “If we influenced the AP Funds’ decision today, we are of course delighted.”
In a press release on Monday, the managers of the AP Funds announced they were also divesting from the companies Freeport Mcmoran, Incitec Pivot, and Potash due to ethical concerns.