Sweden: Victory for school students and parents

“Haninge Council gives in to Elevkampanjen and abolishes charges for school meals from Autumn 2005,” the daily Swedish paper, Dagens Nyheter reported on 21 March. The Social Democrat leadership on the council retreated from the charges following a campaign organised by Elevkampanjen [International Resistance, Sweden] and Rättvisepartiet Socialisterna (CWI, Sweden).

“We won as a result of two school strikes and demonstrations, mass leafleting, a petition with thousands of signatures, a symbolic hunger strike and a boycott involving thousands of parents,” said Lina Thörnblom, national chairperson of Elevkampanjen and member of Rättvisepartiet Socialisterna (RS) in Haninge. RS was the only party involved in the campaign.

“No other decision has created such strong feelings,” admitted Robert Noord, the Social Democrat politician in charge when he announced the retreat. He wrote in his press release that he had had to take the criticism into account,

“The cry of victory spread quickly through the classrooms of the main school,” reported Mattias Bernhardsson, chairperson of RS in Haninge, in the south of Stockholm.

“This is a fantastic victory! It shows that we can stop cuts and is an example for the whole country,” says José Collazos, a parent who as a result of the campaign resigned from the Left Party (ex-‘communist’ party) and joined RS. He thanked everyone that boycotted the charges. “This is what is called solidarity and it gave us the victory”.

If Robert Noord and other politicians think they have now disarmed the RS from engaging in local campaigns, they could not be more wrong. “This encourages us to increase our efforts to challenge Haninge’s welfare-slaughtering politicians,” says Mattias Bernhardsson. Over the last weekend 33 members of RS, Elevkampanjen and other supporters of the campaign were involved in distributing a new mass leaflet to 17,000 households in Haninge.

(For details of the campaign, see previous reports: 9 Sept 2004 – “700 in school protest against cuts”, 27 Aug 2004 – “School students and parents boycott school meal fees”.)

From Offensiv, the weekly paper of Rättvisepartiet Socialisterna (cwi, Sweden)

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