Sweden

In 1905, one hundred years ago, when Sweden looked set to go to war to stop Norway breaking away, the anti-war campaign was organised by the labour movement and the war was stopped. The Swedish labour movement directed its struggle against the Swedish establishment. The methods used were effective and would work today.

The referendum held in Sweden on Sunday (September 14) on whether or not to join the euro has upset the plans of Swedish big business. But its impact goes beyond the borders of Sweden and is being discussed seriously in other countries, especially in Britain where Blair is finding it difficult to convince the people of the "benefits" of adopting the euro.

The municipal workers' strike is now over. It came to a humiliating end when the union leadership decided to sign an agreement with the employers over the heads of the membership. This agreement will only give the workers a relatively low settlement, far lower than the modest 5,5% originally demanded. It is nothing less than a betrayal against those workers who were ready to struggle.

Why did the union leaders call off the strike, when the opinion polls told us that there was a massive (over 80%) support for the struggle? And why did they back down when one union after another (the electricians, the bus-drivers, the commuter-train personnel and the builders for example)

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The municipal workers in Sweden have come out on strike. All over the country day-care centres, schools, refuse-processing plants and other public services have been shut down. This strike marks an important turning point for the class struggle in Sweden.

Despite the propaganda of the mass media, millions of workers and youth have flooded onto the streets of cities all around the world to protest against the attack on Iraq. On Friday Greece was brought to a standstill by a massive 4 hour general strike. More than 150,000 people demonstrated in Athens, in addition to tens of thousands around Greece, while airports, banks, public services, public transport, ferry boats and passenger ships, supermarkets and stores were shut down as a result of the strike.

In this article Martin Oscarsson, from the Editorial Board of the Swedish Marxist journal Socialisten, illustrates how the deepening worldwide crisis of capitalism is affecting Swedish society. A radical mood is developing among the youth in the Social Democratic Party (SSU) and the unions are being placed in a position where they will have to come out into open opposition to the party. The old "Swedish model" once fondly referred to by all the right-wing leaders of the labour movement internationally has definitely broken down. Sweden faces an intensification of the class struggle.

We publish below a translation of the December 1998 editorial statement of the Socialisten (Swedish Marxist journal). It was written because their was some debate at the time over the question of "housemaids". The fact is that a lot of wealthy families "employ" immigrant women to do their housework. They get low wages, no taxes are paid and they have no rights or social security at all. It is a totally black market. The proposal then was to make this market legal, by granting tax-exemptions on these services.

The Swedish media has been taken by surprise by the groundswell of opposition to the US military adventure. Now the opposition to the US attacks has begun to be expressed in demonstrations. Opinion polls reveal that 6 out of 10 Swdes are against any US attack if any innocent civilians were put at risk. Only 3 out of 10 favour such attacks. In addition 56% have little or no confidence in Bush and only 32% have confidence in him. By Lena Ericson Hoijer, Editor Socialisten, the Swedish Marxist Journal. In addition we publish a report on an anti-war demonstration in Stockholm by Pia Hallgren.

Three huge demonstrations (particularly for a city with only half a million inhabitants) took place during the EU summit in Gothenburg. 10,000 marched against president Bush on Thursday 14 June, 20,000-25,000 against EU/EMU on the Friday and 10,000-15,000 against the policies of the EU on the Saturday. These was the largest demonstrations in Gothenburg since the big strike and lockout of 1980. It also reflects a growing discontent amongst young people and workers.

The ECOFIN - all the Finance Ministers of the EU member states - held a meeting in Sweden's third largest city, Malmo, in the early part of May, which was met with a countre-demonstration, similar to the many demonstrations around the world againts the IMF, the WTO, World Bank, etc. The police used brutal methods to break up the demonstration.

Day to day reports on the Festival of the International Union of Socialist Youth.

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