Tobias Baudin, chairman of the Swedish Municipal Workers' Union (Kommunal), told the Dagens Industri newspaper that his union, Sweden's biggest with more than half a million members, now opposed imposing a profit cap on private companies providing healthcare.
However, in a later interview with state-run broadcaster Sveriges Radio, he clarified that he had only decided to oppose the cap because of rumours that the ruling Social Democrat-led government planned to limit its reforms to the education sector.
“There are clear signals from the Social Democratic party that in the run-up to their party congress they have plans to only move forward with schools,” he said. “We think that is a completely the wrong conclusion, as it [the problem] is acute in old age care. We must not leave out old age care.”
At the start of November, a government inquiry headed by the former Malmö mayor Ilmar Reepalu proposed imposing a seven percent cap on the profits private companies could make on providing education, health and welfare services to the Swedish state.
The proposal has been sharply criticised both by Sweden’s business lobby, by the four-party centre-right opposition, the Alliance, and by senior figures within the Social Democrats.
Reepalu's report received strong backing from Kommunal however, with Baudin at the start of November calling the report “an extremely well thought-through and well constructed proposal” .
Baudin told Sveriges Radio that although his organisation did not see the urgency of imposing a profit limit on the health sector, despite DI’s headline to the contrary, it remained opposed in principal to private companies being allowed to take out profits.
“We shouldn’t have profits in the health sector either, but there we don’t see as clearly that it is affecting our members, and the way healthcare should be provided is also better regulated. So in this case, [the problem] is by far the most acute in old age care, as well as schools, so we can put health to the side.”
Baudin blamed private companies for driving down wages and worsening shift structures for those providing care to the elderly.