Sweden: ‘Wild cat’ strike at warehouse

For defence of jobs and working conditions!

Strikers and supporters

Workers at Lagena warehouse in Haninge, south Stockholm, have been on strike since Monday. The strike is in defence of jobs and working conditions in face of a full-blown attack from the company. Lagena is owned by the state alcohol retail monopoly, Systembolaget, and delivers alcohol products to its shops.

This solid strike is formally illegal, and therefore a “wild cat” strike. Already on the first day, company management called in many police to try to intimidate the workers. But the workers are firm: “We are striking until the lay-offs are withdrawn”, as worker after worker explained.

Since January, the management of Lagena warehouse has sacked 34 out of 134 workers. But there is no shortage of work. Instead, the company has hired workers on a day-to-day basis from outside firms. Some of the sacked workers came back, officially employed by another company, on lower wages and on totally insecure jobs. If the company complains about an individual worker, he can be replaced the next day and never come back.

The provocative attack continued in May, with a notice concerning sackings presented to another 33 workers. The union and workforce answered with a militant campaign. Demonstrations have been organised outside the central office of the LO, the trade union federation, as well as at the employer’s headquarters.

This Monday, the workers went on strike, starting with a blockade of all transport to and from the plant. This was held up until a massive police presence forced the workers to accept the gates opening. The strike, however, continued with the same determination and even if the trucks could move, they were loaded very slowly. Not since 1990 has there been a ‘wild cat’ strike lasting three days in Sweden, showing both the determination of the workers and a new climate in society created by the economic crisis.

The warehouse is situated in a stronghold of Rättvisepartiet Socialisterna (CWI Sweden), in Jordbro, in south Stockholm, where RS was the third biggest party in the council elections in 2006. RS members have been permanently present at the picket lines since the strike started. We have also organised support statements from mineworkers’ leaders and visits from garbage collectors, who were on a two-day strike last February.

Today, RS members are with the strikers distributing leaflets outside Systembolaget shops. The response is very good and timing of the strike is excellent, since alcohol sales in Sweden are highest around midsummer, over the coming weekend.

We appeal for solidarity from unions and workers internationally – to support the strike and the struggle against worsening working conditions.

Send messages to: lagerarbetare@gmail.com with copies to offensiv@socialisterna.org

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