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(en) Sweden: LO union defends scabbing against SAC

From Mikael Altemark <altemark@home.se>
Date Tue, 12 Nov 2002 11:52:10 -0500 (EST)

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>From Arbetaren (The Worker), weekly paper of SAC - the syndicalists.

Dishwasher strike in Luleň: LO union defends scabbing

After nearly a week long strike William Lindstedt and Roland Aspviken returned 
to their work as dishwashers at the university restaurant in Luleň. Members of 
the LO-union Hotel and Restaurant acted as scabs - and are supported by their 
union bosses.

The dishwashers at the university restaurant, both members of Luleň LS of SAC 
demands equal pay while the employer Sodexho uses individual wagesetting. The 
dishwashers mean that this encourages egoism, in line with the SAC congress 
that in September was very clear in prioritising the struggle against 
individual wages.

After unfruitful negotiations the two struck Thursday with the demand that
William Lindstedt was to receive the same pay as Roland Aspviken. From the 
first day Sodexho employed scabs.

- We informed them that they didn't risk losing compensation if they would say 
no to the job, but they choose to side with the employer. On Friday only one 
of the scabs came, says Roland Aspviken to Arbetaren.

At least one of them was a member of the Hotel and Restaurant Workers Union, 
HRF, despite that Luleň LS hade requested that HRF would not let their members 
act strikebreakers. HRF:s ombudsman in the district of Norrbotten, Jouni
who also is a politician in the Left Party and until this years election was 
vice chairman in the municipal council in Boden, thinks that his members acted 
correctly when they accepted doing the work banned by the strike.

- It cannot be scabbing because we are the ones carrying the collective 
agreement in the workplace, says Jouni Salonen to Arbetaren.

- Our collective agreement does not forbid individual wagesetting and we 
cannot take conflict against our own collective agreement. Solidarity actions 
are decided upon by our union board and in this question it shares my opinion 
to hundred per cent.

But doesn't everyone have the right to stand neutral in a union dispute and not 
accept duties covered by the strike?

- The syndicalists do not own the collective agreement that affects the 
dishroom at Sodexho. We have the dishroom, says Jouni Salonen.

SAC:s negotiator secretary Lena Barrow is surprised that HRF says that no 
scabbing has occurred. 

- Bullshit, they must have misunderstood what scabbing is! she says 
to Arbetaren.

- These persons were not working at the place before and they had the 
opportunity to avoid going in. If they already had been employed they would 
in principle have been forced to carry on their own duties during a strike,
 but they would not even then be obliged to do the work of our members. The 
right to neutrality is absolute.

Is it unusual that LO-unions act like this when SAC is in a dispute?

- I have never encountered it. That a union defends scabbing this 
clearly is surprising.

According to a survey in last weeks issue of the paper LO-tidningen the 
majority of LO members are against individual wagesetting.

- To be against is something completely else. If we are against 
individual wagesetting we will see to it so that our collective agreement 
forbids it, but now it is valid until 2004 and bound by non-strike agreement. 
I am very upset with the nonchalance that the two striking young men have 
shown! Says Jouni Salonen.

Roland Aspviken says that the battle has not been given up and is of the 
opinion that a important stand has been taken. Amongst other tings Luleň 
LS demonstrated outside a big gala dinner that the university held at the 
restaurant, after which unwashed dishes according to sources stood in 
large piles.

- Actually we perhaps hadn't counted on that the company would give 
in. It was a tactical battle, a little blow in a longer struggle against 
individual wagesetting, says Roland Aspviken

Rasmus Fleischer, transl. M Altemark

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