Wildcat strike in Stockholm

Workers in the warehouse for the Swedish state’s alcohol monopoly have started a wildcat strike in response to management attempts to replace the workforce with short term workers.

Management has been trying for a long time to replace the workers with casualised workers on short term contracts, but now they are using the recession as an excuse for laying off workers, while they continue to hire agency staff. The workers have received little help or interest from their trade union; after a demonstration outside the LO (mainstream trade union federation) headquarters they were promised a meeting with LO representatives, but this was never fulfilled.

The workers have refused to return to work and have been joined in their strike by supporters from the local branch of the SAC and individuals from the extra-parliamentary left.

A blockade of the warehouse was successful between five this morning until two in the afternoon when police helped the management to sneak scabs in the back door. Police have taken the unusually hostile step of classifying the action as a demonstration rather than a workplace conflict, which gives them increased powers to harass the strikers.

This is a tactic that is often used against strikers from the syndicalist union SAC but is not typically used against workers from the LO (mainstream) trade unions. The strike continues tomorrow when there will be a national day of action. The strikers are expected to be supported by SAC members working in the stores of the state’s alcohol monopoly.

Posted By

Jun 16 2009 22:27


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Jun 17 2009 12:37

Couldn't make it there today, but here are the latest news.

Police this morning had sealed off the entire loading area with riot fences, and helped bring in strike breakers from temp workers agencies by the back way along a railroad track. Yesterday there were about 50 riot police hidden close by in the industrial area ready to go into action. Faced with this, the strikes and Friends of the Lagena Workers decided to move their blockade to the systembolaget HQ in central Stockholm. At the same time thousands of leaflets have been handed out outside systomblaget stores around sweden.

Even though people still are working loading cargo at the warehouse, they are still not as skilled as the regular workers and they are still short of hands. Syndicalists working at systembolaget could confirm that the supply of goods is seriously affected in many places in middle Sweden, the stores being behind schedule several hours at most places. The stores are closed both friday and saturday during midsummer (the weekend when the alcohol consumption is absolutely highest during the year) today and tomorrow which makes today and tomorrow vital for the struggle.

Media coverage is not as big, but still the threat of "nubben" being unavailable in stores still fires the headlines. Nubbe is another word for snaps, a small shot of strong liquor which is repeatedly consumed, usually to a meal of pickled herring. Nothing good can come out of this as you understand, but it is good clean fun.

Anyway - latest news is that sympathizers in Gävle, home town of Joe Hill, have occupied the loading bay of a systembolaget store in solidarity with the strike.

Letters of solidarity have come in from the mine workers locals in northern Sweden, the independent dockers union, bakery workers, service- and communication workers' in Stockholm, lots of of SAC locals and syndicates, like the industrial workers' syndicate of SAC and the section at systembolaget. The facebook support group now is over 1000 members

An account has been setup for a solidarity fund to help the striker's that might be facing fines for bogus charges by the police as well as the damages that the wildcat nature of the strike will lead to.

Jun 17 2009 12:34

What can you do to help the workforce of Lagena?

1. You or your organisation; use this template for solidarity statements and as soon as possible and send to:
Members of the Handels union at lagena:

The CEO of Lagena, Per Öhagen

Chairman of Lo, Wanja Lundby-Wedin

We support the demands of the workers at Systembolaget warehouse Lagena!

The workers at the Systembolaget warehouse Lagena in Jordbro is struggling to stop the sacking of 33 employees. The company wants to replace full-time personel and hire disposable agency staff to. This autumn already 49 out of 150 lost their jobs.

What the workers at the warehouse are reacting to is something that is not only a problem for themselves. Only during may, 9000 persons in Sweden were notified that they were to lose their jobs. At the same time the pressure at workplaces is on the increase with more precarious jobs. This is a development that grinds down people, that destroys shoulders, knees and hits hard against families.

The struggle at Lagena is relevant to everyone who wants to stop this development. The Lagena workers shows us an alternative to despair.

Therefore we want to support the demands of the Lagena workers:

- The Lagena management must withdraw the planned sackings

- The conditions of the workers must not be worsened.

- The share of rental personel must not be higher than 10%

- LO should organise struggles against sackings.

2. Help collect money to support the strikers:
PlusGiro 134456-3

Jun 17 2009 14:47

- LO should organise struggles against sackings.

Why so?!

Jun 18 2009 12:47

MT: Building a worker's movement that is capable and willing to oppose this kind of undermining of employment security is something which is advantegeous for workers.

Also, the support group "friends of the Lagena workers" which includes anarchists, autonomist marxists and syndicalists has taken a stand for doing a solid grounding of the support work together with the strikers themselves. They are sceptical to LO for very good reasons, but it is their call on how to carry the struggle that is decisive for us. Organisational chauvinism is not of the essence when the livelihood and rights of fellow workers come into play.

Latest news is that the strike and solidarity actions around the country are having an effect on the availability of certain kinds of alcohol products in Sweden. Systembolaget have put up a notice about the strike and excuses themselves for possible irregularities in the availability. This shows that now even they are admitting that the strike is not meaningless. But what they should do further is take their responsibility and put pressure on their daughter company to reinstate the sacked workers.

Today it will probably be clear that the labour court (arbetsdomstolen) will decide to order the workers to end the strike or face fines of up to 600 euro (for leading activists) in damages. The decision can also be used as a reason for sacking all persons who participate in the strike.

The labour court is a tripartite state commission made up of labour law experts and jurists in the minority and an equal amount of people from the employee side and LO. Since it was instated in 1928, it is obvious that the setup of this court will go against any threatening militant worker action outside the LO sphere of influence.

A meeting has been called for today to decide on how to proceed.

Statements of solidarity have been recieved from library workers, systembolaget workers (and in one case a systembolaget store boss!) and thousands of kr have been collected to support the workers. It is even more important now if economic or moral support is shown. It is this element thas has hitherto kept the combative workers united and uncompromising in their struggle.

Jun 18 2009 14:05

There is no mention of who made the call and the question about LO is therefore highly important.

Btw, the strike will be called off today in the evening after the labour court decided against the strikers. But the struggle goes on in some way, but perhaps people from Sweden could tell more, I've just used translate.google.com;)

Jun 18 2009 22:13

MT: Ah, sorry for that, I should have included the info.

Yes the strike is off for now. A demonstration has been called for outside the warehouse to coincide with the different shifts getting on and off. I don't know any further details.

Jun 25 2009 06:39

While protests where carried on against Systembolaget, protests where also aimed at LO and that is not very common in Sweden that the local club confronts the union and their inability to react against attacks on conditions. Strike is off since the labour court ordered the strikers to get back to work. Also the local club is dissolved due to criticisms of LO.

Jul 13 2009 15:17

That is fantastic that the workers are striking and standing up for themselves because it seems like the economic crisis would cause even more labor issues. Too bad the scabs are still sneaking in! online casino

Nov 19 2013 17:28

4 years after the dramatic wildcat, DHL acquired the Lagena warehouse, and have now given notice to 25 of the 70 workers who are currently permanently employed there that they are to be laid off and replaced with temp agency staff.

The situation is aggravated by the fact that two reformist unions - their old Commercial Employees' Union and the Swedish Transport Workers' Union - both in the LO confederation, are vying for representation. The collective agreement for the workplace runs out in february 2014, and in the style of reformist and narrow branch-focused centralism, the LO union bosses are going to try to decide which of the unions have jurisdiction (the new owners surely cannot have avoided calculating how much they'll save by having the employees under the Transport national collective agreement)