Newly elected President of the Swedish Trade Union Confederation Karl-Petter Thorwaldsson: “We will fight the Government for full employment!”


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“You have to call a spade a spade. We have mass unemployment in Sweden. Our positive work first principle has been replaced by a negative one. It is not based on people’s will to work, it is based on people’s fear of unemployment or illness. Don’t ever mistake the right-wing work first principle for ours! They are not even cousins – they are the antithesis of each other. It’s time for another policy. We will take up that fight with the Government!”

Those were the words of the newly elected President of the Swedish Trade Union Confederation Karl-Petter Thorwaldsson when he spoke to the Swedish Trade Union Confederation Congress on Sunday. He went on:
“The Government does just as much as it dares. And what it dares to do is determined by how strong we are. The Swedish Trade Union Confederation does not carry the same weight in Swedish public debate nowadays. That is the unfortunate truth. How then are we to build a stronger position of power? The answer is as simple and obvious as it has always been. It is a matter of members, power and opportunities. In that order. The members of our trade unions give us power and thereby the opportunity to change our everyday lives.”

Mr Thorwaldsson also emphasised that the trade union movement must strengthen its work for equal pay:
“Our failure to coordinate in the last bargaining round strengthens no-one except the employers. Fragmented trade union coordination on wage frames for women was perhaps not the best solution, but the alternative must never be to do nothing at all. So I say clearly and explicitly: We must continue the fight together. Side by side. Men and women. We will even out pay differentials between women and men.”

Mr Thorwaldsson also considered that the labour movement must be clearer when it comes to withdrawal of profits from schools, health care and social services:
“If we pay taxes for our children’s schooling then that is where the tax money should go. If we pay taxes to give our parents the best care in their old age then that is where the tax money should go. If we pay taxes to give everyone the best health care then that is where the money should go. Not to some owner who will take sky-high profits. For me this is utterly crystal clear. Our tax money should go to what it is intended for. There must be a stop to grotesque profits from schools, health care and social services. I want to see a restriction on profits in our welfare system. And that’s it.”