Sweden: Stockholm Connex workers’ fight bosses’ attack on their union

An appeal for support – Connex employees plan new strike

The following letter has been sent to all the hundreds of unions worldwide, as well as in Sweden, who have expressed their solidarity with the Stockholm metro workers. The train drivers´ union, Seko Klubb 119, is engaged in a bitter struggle against Connex’ attempt to smash their organization.

Supporting this struggle is the number one priority for Rättvisepartiet Socialisterna (cwi) in Sweden and the party is placing all its efforts in making this struggle a success. It is the single most glaring anti-union attack in Sweden in modern times and has already raised wide-spread demands for greater trade union rights in Sweden.

Another day of protest is planned for Friday, 18 November with strike action from below and a demonstration in Stockholm. Any initiative by workers and socialists elsewhere to protest against Connex or its mother company, Veolia Environment, on that day would be extremely welcome. Solidarity protests of this kind should be reported to the union as well as to RS in Sweden at:- offensiv@socialisterna.org.

We would also like to extend the train drivers´ warmest thanks for all the letters of support sent to them following our last appeal. It has had a great effect on the morale of the workers and every letter has been published on the union´s website: www.sekoklubb119.org

Arne Johansson

Stockholm Connex workers’ fight bosses’ attack on their union

On September 27, Connex, Sweden fired one of their employees, Per Johansson, chairman of the metro drivers’ union of Stockholm. November 18 has now been declared as a day of protest.

It is against the anti-union policy of Connex in general and against the sacking of Per Johansson in particular. We are appealing for your solidarity.

The reason they gave for the sacking was Johansson’s alleged disloyalty to the company and rudeness towards his "fellow employees" (probably referring to his bosses). Connex maintains that the sacking is in no way related to Johansson’s role as union chairman. The members of his union and other unions think otherwise.

Under Johansson’s chairmanship, the union has gained considerable ground in questions concerning wages and working hours. The immediate cause for his dismissal, however, is probably his focus on safety and the working environment. Together with the elected safety representatives, the union has put its finger on several sore spots. The safety reps. have used their power to stop the underground on three different occasions after severe incidents. Insufficient measures having been taken to remedy the ills and Johansson has gone public. In all likelihood this constitutes his "disloyalty".

Since the sacking of Johansson, the metro drivers’ union has convened meetings for its enraged members at least once a week to discuss what measures to take. In Sweden trade unions are severely restricted by collective labour contracts. This makes it impossible for the union to call a strike in support of Johansson. Nevertheless, the metro drivers went on an unauthorised strike on the morning of October 6th. The Stockholm metro came very close to a complete standstill. At nine o’clock, the traffic was resumed. On the same day a demonstration was staged in front of the main office of Connex Sweden.

The metro drivers’ union has continually taken many actions, putting pressure on Connex to re-employ Per Johansson. One of those actions was the big demonstration on the 20 October where about 2,000 members showed their support for Per. Connex employees in Stockholm are now planning an unauthorised 24 hour strike on 18 November and a large demonstration.

The metro drivers’ union enjoys the unanimous support of the other trade unions of Sweden. Petition lists are being circulated, calling for the re-employment of Johansson. Thousands of leaflets have been distributed. A poster campaign is going on with the motto, "We refuse to keep silent!" The national leadership of the union is investigating the possibility of a political strike demanding freedom of speech. The ITF (International Trade Union Federation) is exerting pressure on Connex internationally.

Dear fellow workers all over the world, on 18 November a huge demonstration organised by the union will take place in Sweden. We are calling for your support on this day. You can support us by demonstrating or by taking other actions in front of Connex offices or any other office that represents the mother company Veolia (the owner of Connex), Onyx, Dalkia, Veolia Water and others. In case there is no representative of any of the above-mentioned companies in the country you live in, you can still show your support by demonstrating in front of the Swedish embassy.

We are making an urgent call for the unions that have not yet sent their petition lists to do so as soon as possible.

If possible, we would like you to send pictures of any solidarity action you take. Please send them to us by e-mail so we can show them to our members and other workers in Stockholm’s metro and elsewhere. We can also try and put them on our web-site.

Yiannis Konstantis

Vice-chairman, Seko Klubb 119

For the board of the metro drivers’ union

Offensiv and Rättvisepartiet Socialisterna (CWI Sweden) appeal to all trade union and political activists to send messages of protest and support, with the following demands:

  • the sacking of Per Johansson must be withdrawn
  • the trade union movement must mobilise in protest against the sacking
  • the regional council should stop the privatisation of the underground and itself run it again
  • the ruling parties in the regional council – Social Democrats, the Left Party and the Greens – should condemn the sacking

Messages should be sent to:

Please also send copies to: offensiv@socialisterna.org

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November 2005