Sweden: 700 in school protest against cuts

Big pressure has been put on politicians in a Swedish council area to reverse their retrograde policy of charging for school meals.

More than 700 people, most of them 16-18 year old school students who were on strike for half a day, participated in a protest demonstration at the council meeting in Haninge, South Stockholm, on Monday 6 September.

"School students are refusing to pay the 500 Swedish kronor (SEK) for school meals," wrote the daily paper, Metro, in a headline. Other media were at the demonstration as well. The regional news on TV4 had good coverage, including an interview with Lina Thörnblom, spokesperson for Elevkampanjen and a member of Rättvisepartiet Socialisterna (CWI Sweden).

The Social Democrat and Liberal politicians who run the council had calculated that they could raise 2.6 million SEK through the new charges for school meals. But a widespread boycott, as a result of the campaign, combined with bureaucratic clumsiness, has resulted in the council admitting that few have paid so far. The income from such a charge is anyway only a fraction of total school costs in the council budget. So far, everyone is still able to eat a free school lunch.

, Mattias Bernhardsson and Christian Reuter from the campaign handed over petitions with over 5,000 signatures to the politician in charge, Robert Noord. Noord was sweating and when they asked at what level of boycott he would retreat, he just answered, "I don’t know"! When interviewed by the media, he claimed that the decision would not be changed.

Before the demonstration, the Left party (former Communist Party) had declared that they would not raise the issue in the council meeting. They didn’t want to participate in the demonstration either. Despite being in opposition, they take a ‘responsible’ position. Another small left group produced a leaflet against the fee, but without any position on how to stop it. That group also abstained from the demo, leaving Elevkampanjen and RS as the only organisations there.

The next mobilisation in the campaign is on 28 September, when the council’s school committee meets. More initiatives are also being discussed, alongside keeping up the boycott. Elevkampanjen recruited 19 new members on Monday and Tuesday, making it 34 for the last few weeks.

We sold 61 copies of Offensiv, the weekly paper of Rättvisepartiet Socialisterna, at the demo and at least four new people are interested in joining our party. In the last three weeks, 44 new subscriptions of Offensiv have been sold.

Elevkampanjen and Rättvisepartiet Socialisterna (cwi Sweden).

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September 2004