Underground strike, asylum seekers rights, campaign against violence against women, 2006 elections…
In 2005, Rättvisepartiet Socialisterna (RS, CWI Sweden) played a key role in various campaigns and continued to increase its support and its subscribers to ‘Offensiv’, the party’s weekly paper.
Our role and potential were demonstrated in the struggle of the Stockholm underground workers. The Chairperson of the underground workers’ union, Seko Branch 119, was sacked by his employer, Connex. This strike took place when, generally, there were no other strikes or workers’ struggles. Action by the underground train drivers could be an impetus for other groups of workers and has political effects.
This was our major campaign in November, last year. We were the only party making this a priority. We had daily discussions with the Seko Branch 119 Chairperson; participated in union branch meetings; we gave full coverage of this issue in our paper; we put forward a programme calling for a one day political strike; we carried out many public activities about the strike, including the first public meeting in support of the workers; and we conducted an international solidarity campaign about the strike.
In one intensive week (Monday, 14 November to Friday, 18 November), we sold over 700 copies of ‘Offensiv’, while campaigning on this issue. At the union demonstration on that Friday, we had a speaker at the rally organised by the union branch.
Through this work, new people came into contact with the party and we got new paper subscriptions.
Rättvisepartiet Socialisterna (RS, CWI Sweden) organised and won a struggle against school lunch fees in Haninge, south of Stockholm. Our members were decisive in winning residence permits for the most well known refugee child in Sweden, Shaida Kurbanova – coined, “Sleeping Beauty” by the press – and her family.
The plight of asylum seekers was the dominant political question in Sweden, from April to September, 2005, with two parliamentary debates over whether to grant an amnesty for them. RS collected 25,000 signatures in our own campaign demanding rights for asylum seekers. We also participated in broader campaigns.
We took the initiative for short warning strikes amongst care-workers for the elderly, in Umeå, in March – the only such protests in the whole country. In Piteå, our party organised five demonstrations against racism, over the last year. On International Women’s Day, 8 March, 2005, in several towns, RS and Elevkampanjen/International Socialist Resistance (ISR) were the only people that organised demonstrations.
Political understanding in Sweden among workers and youth today swings rapidly, depending on how strong is the feeling that there is no credible alternative and depending on the level of struggle. 2003 was marked by movements – against the Iraq war, over the council workers’ strike, and during the euro referendum. But 2005 saw very few struggles.
Nevertheless, the socialist ideas of Rättvisepartiet Socialisterna (RS, CWI Sweden) still got support from youth and workers. People sign our petitions and buy our paper etc. The general discontent with established parties is still there, as is growing inequality.
Our Rättvisepartiet Socialisterna (RS, CWI Sweden) branches have new people interested in discussing with us and joining us. Public meetings in the later part of 2005 brought new people in touch with the party. The meetings concerned Che Guevara, the train drivers’ struggle and a public debate in Umeå against the Young Conservatives.
We have continued our emphasis on political education in the party. Summer and winter camps are important. At this year’s summer camp, we had 29 seminars on different subjects. We have a study guide for new members, which includes ten meetings on basic Marxist themes.
Youth and students
In the first three weeks of last autumn’s school term, over 50 youth joined Elevkampanjen (EK), the campaigning youth campaign Rättvisepartiet Socialisterna set up. In Umeå, several of the new active Rättvisepartiet Socialisterna members are students. We also initiated ‘Socialist Students’, including in Stockholm University.
Our main campaign at the beginning 2005 was against men’s violence against women. This is a major issue in the mass media and in society, in general. Our analysis, programme and activity stood out, compared to any other political currents. We organised petitions, demonstrations on 8 March (International Women’s Day), and school activities on the issue. Among the supporters of Rättvisepartiet Socialisterna, women are in a majority.
In 2005, amongst other union work, Rättvisepartiet Socialisterna members participated in a conference of left wing unionists, we challenged Kommunal (the council workers’ union) in union elections in Umeå region, and RS comrades have won new positions in unions.
Our paper, ‘Offensiv’, has been a weekly for 8 years. We have steadily increased the number of subscribers.
For the CWI, we raised thousands of euros for Sri Lanka workers after the tsunami disaster.
2006 will see elections in Sweden: local council, regional council and parliamentary – all on 17 September. These elections are already in focus in the media, with establishment parties preparing their campaigns.
Rättvisepartiet Socialisterna will stand in the general election to offer the only socialist alternative. We will also stand in the council elections in Luleå and Umeå, where we have two and three councillors respectively, plus Haninge, in the south of Stockholm region.
As well as votes, an important way to measure the campaign will be the results in party building – the new members, reaching new people and areas with manifestos and our paper, and sinking roots in workplaces and working class areas.