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(en) Sweden, SAC unionise policemen ...

From "CNT AIT" <cnt.ait@wanadoo.fr>
Date Tue, 11 Mar 2003 00:17:59 +0100 (CET)

      A - I N F O S  N E W S  S E R V I C E

This article was published in issue 39/02 of Arbetaren, weekly paper
published  It is the report of the last SAC Congres.The topic of the cops
inside SAC has been debated, and it has been decided that policemen can
still be member of SAC, as it is already the case.
(CNT AIT, France)

SAC - the Syndicalists since 1922.

There seemed to be a consensus around the project of union reorganisation,
even though perhaps the younger generation was the more energetic part, and
the concept was present in most discussions, above around the union
programme which was passed with some changes.

- The programme will be the basis of at least 15 different fliers and will
stimulate discussions in syndicates, sections and LS [Local
Coorganisations], Arwid Lund answered the delegates who questioned its

The programme starts with analysing the capitalism of today, continues with
raising down-to-earth demands and is finishes with sketching strategies for
the SAC. During the lively discussion of it around thursday noon a total of
18 men and 6 women did statements and closer to 80 per cent of the
contributions were made by men.

The delegate for Ume?¥ LS, Hans-Ove Nordmark, called the programme
"backwards, vague and wimpy".

- A union programme must come out of the attitude that "we are doing the
work, and we will get paid for it - everything now!". It shouldn't be about
ten per cent here and there, he said.

- But the balance of power are not like that today and because of this we
need steps. The programme points at a floor to start from, answered Rasmus
H?¤stbacka, of Ume?¥ LS.

The later's campaign and one-man strike against individual wage-setting at
the pharmacy-company in Ume?¥ served as a model for the congress, were a
broad unity was felt that this is a question which from now on will be a
priority for the SAC.

- Kommunal [Union connected to the Social Democratic LO confederation
organizing public service-employees] has taken a stand for individual
wage-setting on the central level while only 16 per cent of their members
are for it. Because of this it is very interesting that we have brought up
the question, said Linda Wagenius from Malm? LS.

The work will amongst other things get a boost by SAC producing study
 material on individual wage-setting.

Apart from this priority some other clear tendencies could be seen in the
talk about "union reorganisation". One is the will that the workplace
struggle as such as possible should not rely on the juridicial. In the new
union programme the demand is raised the AD [Swedish equivalent to the NLRB]
should be closed down and a conference is to be held where "the reformist
formed labour rights code" will be problematisized. Another strong tendency
is that SAC will leave everything that's organisational chauvinism behind
it. For example the new union programme advocates cooperation outside of the
SAC with coworkers and wildcat or informal methods of struggle are brought
to the forefront. The third and most obvious streak is that the
reorganisation is directed at lessening the importance of the LS, and
radically strengthening the industrial organisation, which stagnated during
the whole post-war period.

According to the union programme this will happen in three steps: first
prioritise building of sections at workplaces and regional industrial
syndicates. Then form industrial committees on national level, which after
time will be formalised into full-feathered federations. An industry which
will be central is the publicly financed sector.

Also in the election of the officials the reorganisational tendency was
clearly visible. With the whole of eight candidates for the job as editor of
the Syndikalisten [SACs internal publication] the questioning of them seemed
a little like a party-leader debate. Some promised cut down in costs, one a
mobile editorial staff, most a close cooperation with union grassroots. In
the end the delegates elected Torfi Magnusson of Stockholms LS, who had
profiled himself with making the paper have a very clear class-struggle
orientation, which he wanted to see as a hub in the reorganisation.

A new negotiator-secretary was not elected, when only one of the delegates
voted for the only candidate Ingela Drenska while 47 said no. Lena Barrow
explained that she is prepared to hold the post until a successor has been
elected by the SAC members through a referendum.

A totally new and expanded Working Committee was voted for, with Kent
Forsgren (Stockholms LS, R?¥s Lennstr?m (Sandvikens LS), Arwid Lund
(Stockholms LS), Bert M?¥rtensson (?-sterv?¥la LS) and Lillemor Norling
(Fruviks LS) as regular members.

Propositions on changes in the statement of principles led to several
debates of ideological nature. Sandvikens LS wanted to make it clearer that
syndicalism is revolutionary and that the general strike is the only way to
the social revolution, an idea which according to some delegates was a dated

- To dramatically put up the dramaturgy of the social revolution is
unnecessary, said Rasmus H?¤stbacka from Ume?¥ LS.

- The start of the social revolution is what you do at work next Monday.
The metaphor about the general strike is locking us up! said Jona Elings
from Stockholms LS.

At the same time this summers one-day general strike in Spain as an example
that the parade-action of classical syndicalism really is possible.

- Both general strike and social revolution are fundaments in syndicalism,
but I can't find the words in the declaration of principles. SAC is
suffering from a ideological hollowing-out and it is time that we do
something about it, said ?-rjan Bergsten, G?teborgs LS.

The result was that the committee which will oversee the declaration of
principles will deal with the issue.

The wording "the struggle against sexism is of the same priority and
importance as the class struggle" was removed. Instead the sentence "SAC
considers all people of equal worth and is against every form of
oppression". Among the women who have driven feminism inside the SAC the
views on the change were split.

- One could think that the change means that feminism is toned down, but it
is just the opposite. It is a consequence of the realization that women's
struggle is class struggle and not something which needs to be put against
each other, said resigning secretary Hannele Peltonen.

On the other hand several persons pointed out that the feminist realizations
have had very limited impact in reality. The congress decided to commit
study-activities in the question and an evaluation of the impact of feminism
is to be done.

When other unions give notice of conflict SAC will from now on give notice
of sympathy-actions, something that earlier has been the work of every LS
for itself but still has been taken care of centrally sometimes. A little
minority of mostly LS of the northern parts of Sweden voted no and reserved
themselves against the decision, while they considered the central
notice-giving as contrary to the local self-determination. The advocates
pointed out the importance in that the notice arrives in time and that LS
still have the right to cancel notice.

There were also proposals on centralisation of the dues-accountal system.
Today this is handled by each LS, but a big problem is that many smaller LS
are bad at accounting. But the views were not unanimous on if a
centralisation would free up local activists from paperwork, which was
hinted at in some proposals.

Many of our smaller LS exist only on paper and an administrative measure
will not solve the problem. I don't understand that we keep on upholding a
structure which is that. Perhaps we should do like LO did in the 50's: merge
them so that we get lively and strong units, said Bj?rn Mohlin of G?¤vle LS.

The question ended up a compromise: the possibilities of a centralised
accountal-system will be subject of an inquiry, remitted to LS and after
this decided on through referendum. During this time SAC will offer the LS
who can't handle it themselves a self-cost service.

However, the congress voted yes to a reorganisation of the
ombudsman-activity, after the debate had made the opinion swing around.
Successively all SAC ombudsmen will go from being tied to a geographical
area to being national ombudsmen, elected by all members and stationed in
Gothenburg, Stockholm and Gävle.

Lena Barrow, retiring negotiating secretary and responsible for the
suggestion, means that working alone should be avoided to better the working
environment for the negotiators and that SAC in the long run should work to
place more responsibility on voluntary negotiators.

- The ombudsmen should rather be more like competence-banks rather than
workhorses running around and negotiating smaller matters. Then they will be
used in the best way, says Lena Barrow to Arbetaren.

- The proposition should be seen as a expression of the will that the
local self-activity won't be totally dependent on the ombudsmen, even if
their expertise will be used as long as the Swedish labour codes look l like
they do.


* The study organizer stays

An international secretary is a job which should be prioritised before the
study organizer, that was the view of amongst others Malmö LS.

But the congress decided with a large majority to keep the study
organizer-office. Dirk Grosjean was later re-elected to the office. As
earlier, the general secretary will hold the head responsibility for SAC's
international work.

* New publishing house editor elected

SAC's publishing company Federativs will continue as before, as the congress
voted no to the proposal to abolish the office of publishing house-editor.
New editor is Christer Forsberg - a native of Gävle, a troubadour and
literary critic. He will commit Federativs to getting out cheap pocketbooks
and isn't a stranger to publish fiction.

* Printing press will not be sold

Federativs Printing Press Inc., which is owned by the SAC was subject of a
relatively long debate. Stockholms LS, Malmö LS and some others wanted to
sell partly because the ownership means an economic risk and the
printing-industry is stagnating, partly because they were of the view that a
union shouldn't be owning capitalist companies.

The fact that the SAC has let the anarchist magazine Brand get printed by
Federativs when it was threatened by prosecution of criminal agitation was
held forward as an example of a important defence of free speech. A large
majority voted no to selling of the company.

* Lars Hammarberg is voted General Secretary

SAC's new face and responsible for the work of the office is a 32-year old
mailman from the Stockholm suburb Sk?¤rholmen. Lars Hammarberg was voted to
the position of SAC:s new General Secretary by a large majority, the post
which before the congress was just called Secretary.

* I am practically inclined rather than a theoretician, he said when he and
the two other candidates Arwid Lund and Liv Marend were questioned by the

Lars Hammarberg has been organised in the SAC since 1988, is head of the
syndicalist working section at the postoffice in a district of Stockholm and
was stand-in ombudsman this summer. In his application he stresses the need
for working syndicates and federations to stop the flow of members through
the SAC.

* Some debate on Arbetaren

Arbetaren was not a hot a topic as during earlier congresses, perhaps
because there weren't any proposals to close down the paper. Editor-in-chief
Anna-Klara Bratt was not challenged by any candidates and was re-elected by
a large majority.

The new policy-statement about the goals of Arbetaren was accepted without
any major differences from the earlier one.

* International Cooperation

Since many people temporarily work outside the country, Sandvikens LS
motioned that SAC should state in it's declaration of principles that those
who are part of syndicalist unions in other countries but works for a short
period of time in Sweden should have the same right of support as members of
the SAC. The proposal fell after delegates argued that this should be a
question to be decided on locally, but several LS reserved themselves.

* Discussion about police

Even if a large majority voted no to a motion written by Ronny Stansert who,
with the Spanish syndicalists as role models, wanted that the SAC should not
organise policemen, the question led to a thorough principial debate.

Helene Draheim of ?-stersunds LS meant that she was ambivalent.

* One of our more active members is a police officer. At the same time there
is a point, because some professions will always be the tool of the elite to
put in against demonstrations and strikes, she said.

* There are many professions who can come into conflict with their views and
in a way also have a violent function. This is probably a conflict we will
have to live with, said Anna Fr?ding of Uppsala LS.

Also in the future LS will also take a stand on which professions they want
to organise.

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