Thursday, 19 July 2018


Posting this on behalf of Svein Lundeng and Dockers Hangarounds

The right to strike is being attacked in Sweden. This is a proposal made by the employers association Svenskt Näringsliv (the Swedish Confederation of Employers) together with union bureaucrats who have gone behind the backs of their own members, all sanctioned by the Social Democratic Party. Previously, the Social Democrats had launched their own investigation to limit the right to strike but as if by chance the union bosses and the employers pre-empted this investigation with their own law proposal. This new proposal threatens to kill off radical unions (ones that one union boss called “extremist unions”), open the door to yellow unions and to take power away from wage workers of all kinds. This is an attack on the working class and nothing else.  

This is not just a Swedish situation. We have seen similar developments in other EU countries such as Spain or France. This is not a coincidence but a part of a concerted push to roll back workers rights across the continent and across the world. What happens with workers in one place affects workers globally. That is why this is so important.  

The Proposal
Basically the proposal wants to ban strikes that do not have the explicit aim of attaining a collective bargaining agreement (CBA). A CBA is a contract made between employers and unions that stipulates pay, rules and regulations for work and which always includes in itself a ban on striking as long as the agreement is in effect. This new law proposal will make international solidarity strikes, political strikes or strikes to gain higher wages effectively illegal. The proposal also stipulates that if there is a pre-existing CBA in a workplace then the ban on striking (that is part of every CBA for the duration of the agreement) will extend to all other unions in the workplace. In order to understand why this is a massive problem we have to take a step back and look at the broader context of the Swedish labor market which has a relative high level of unionization in most sectors, dominated by unions in the the Swedish Trade Union Confederacy, LO, which organizes around a million blue collar workers in Sweden. This union is heavily centralized as this situation shows, even as their member unions were mobilizing against the investigation their bosses were secretly making a deal to inhibit the right to strike.  

This proposal opens the door to yellow unions, that an employer will have one of their subordinates create a union and then sign a contract with this union and bar all other unions from industrial action. This is a development we have seen in Denmark, for example. Yellow unions will mean that the employers will be free to sign whatever CBA they please with whoever calls themselves a union (for example, a relative of the employer could start a union at a workplace and sign a CBA, and the workers will be effectively unable to do anything about it.  

The free unions
While at a current historical low (which makes this proposal all the more absurd and cynically anti-worker) there are occasional labor struggle in Sweden. To a high extent these are fought by free unions that have, typically for radical political reasons, stood outside LO. These unions, such as the Swedish Dock Workers Union or the anarcho-syndicalist SAC Syndikalisterna, are the main examples. With this law they will effectively be destroyed. SAC is typically a minority union in every workplace it exists, but it tops the list of strikes and strike days every year in Sweden. It is used as a tool for precarious workers and radicals and has been a cornerstone of the radical left in Sweden since it was founded in 1908 in opposition to LO. It politically opposes collective bargaining agreements since these in Sweden always include the clause that the employer has the right to lead and distribute work as the employer sees fit, a clause that is the cornerstone of class compromise in Sweden. Since it signs no CBA:s SAC will be bound by other unions signing CBA:s with an employer, thus also banning strikes and other industrial action for members of the SAC.  

The Swedish Dockworkers Union is on the other hand a majority union in Gothenburg harbor with 80% of all workers there organized by them. The employers, the Danish Maersk shipping company, have been attacking them heavily over the last years and is trying to destroy their union in a development very similar to one in Norway. This attack has resulted in months-long lockouts of workers, and a few hour-long strikes on various issues have been publicized by rabid right-wing press as reprehensible. This “conflict in the harbor” was the reason the Social Democrats proposed the original investigation to inhibit the right to strike, but it is in reality a conflict by the employers against the workers and not even an attempt by workers to move their positions forward! Now, the LO union has signed a CBA with the employers in the harbor while they are a minority union. This has locked out the Dockworkers from all influence which has led to a number of injuries. If this proposal is made into law then a minority union which has cozied up to the employers and thus gotten to sign a CBA will be able to ban strikes by the majority union at a workplace as well! The Action We will, of course, not let this pass. We are not happy with the situation as it is but this attack will not just harm workers ability to struggle in Sweden but also threatens to accelerate the neoliberal attack on workers rights all over Europe. Thus, we will launch a huge mass action on August 25th in Stockholm and shut down business interests and political groups that attack our right as workers to organize and struggle. They can try to limit our power in the workplace, but we will show them that we can bring the strike to the streets.  

This mass action will be organized as a “five finger” action with different blocs as well as smaller groups each acting in solidarity but with different targets and topics. There will also be strikes and other actions in the day before and on the 25th. We encourage people to come and help us shut down Stockholm and to act together but with a diversity of tactics. There will be more information posted on this in the upcoming weeks. Our action is just two weeks before the election and we will force this issue on the attack of the rights of workers into the public sphere. Our aim, of course, is not just to save the right to strike but to defend workers rights everywhere and to create a fighting movement where we not just defend the rights we have fought and died for during history but push forward to win new victories! Join us in Stockholm 25/8 and strike back!  

The Red Finger:
The Yellow Finger:
Yellow is the color of betrayal, and we invite you to join a tour of Stockholm city on the topic of historical and present day treason against the working class by the social democratic party and the federation of trade unions. Following the demonstration at Norra bantorget we will visit the historical locations and shed some light on the actions of the labor establishment during the period of
the early 20th century until today.

What to expect?
The tour ends in an action of civil disobedience aimed at the circulation of the city. The ambition is to enable a low barrier of entry, and it will be accessible to anyone. Bring some yellow clothes, your hate for class society and leave the ID-card at home.

Dockers Hangarounds was started by SUPPORTERS of Dockers worldwide:
«Dockers Hangarounds - people who sympathize and support dockers Internationally.

Admins are supporting working people from different parts of the world»
We fights are for all the Dockers,Longshoremen,Wharfies,Stevedores worldwide,and to inform all Working Class Unions.
The worst thing that can happen is a dispute between unions.
International,national and local unions from the entire working class needs to stand together shoulder to shoulder!
Don't forget to invite your friends from all Unions...

UK Shipping Minister, Nusrat Ghani, names new Hapag-Lloyd vessel ‘Afif‘ at DP World London Gateway

Hapag-Lloyd AG officially named one of its newest vessels – facilitating trade between the UK and the Far East – on the River Thames on Monday.
The honour of formally naming the vessel was bestowed upon the UK’s shipping minister, Nusrat Ghani, at DP World London Gateway, the UK’s fastest growing container port.
She christened the vessel ‘Afif’, which is Arabic for ‘purity’ and ‘honesty’ and the name of a city in central Saudi Arabia, in the Najd region, situated halfway between Riyadh and Mecca.
The ceremony saw Ms Ghani smash a sacrificial bottle of champagne against the bow of the ship, after wishing this new vessel – which can hold 15,000 twenty-foot containers -  good luck and Godspeed as it transits the oceans transporting billions of pounds worth of cargo between Britain and international markets.
Speeches were made by Ms Ghani, Anthony J. Firmin, Chief Operating Officer at Hapag-Lloyd AG and Chris Lewis, the UK CEO of DP World, before an audience of 260 importers, exporters, supply chain executives and Government officials.
Afif is 385.5m long and LNG (liquid nitrogen gas) ready, offering the potential for significant reductions in emissions. This supports Hapag-Lloyd AG’s environmental principles for a mixed fuel future.
DP World is a global port operator, and its London Gateway site offers access for the next generation of container vessels, such as Afif, with unmatched deep-water access and future-proofed technology in a premier location, just a short distance from Central London.
Hapag-Lloyd AG operates or has cargo on 11 services into and out of DP World London Gateway from the Far East, South America, Australia, the USA, Pakistan, India, South Africa and the Caribbean.
Anthony J. Firmin, Chief Operating Officer and Member of the Executive Board of Hapag-Lloyd AG said: “This is the first time in 20 years that Hapag-Lloyd has named one of its vessels in Great Britain. Afif is more than three times the size of London Express, named in Southampton in 1998. Two decades on, we are extremely proud to be naming another new vessel and grateful to the UK’s shipping minister for undertaking this traditional ritual.
“Today we have celebrated more than the introduction of a new, environmentally vessel to the Hapag-Lloyd fleet. We have celebrated the UK’s position as a global trading partner and we were delighted that so many key people from within the shipping, logistics and supply chain industries were able to join us.
“You can always rely on our presence here in Great Britain - working with partners like DP World - to enable and facilitate trade between the UK and all international markets. And we’re delighted to welcome Afif to our fleet of vessels to deliver international trade.”
Nusrat Ghani, Transport Minister, said: “Shipping is key to the UK, enabling trade right across the world and helping deliver food to our cupboards and energy for our homes.
“It’s an honour to name Afif, Hapag-Lloyd’s latest container ship, as it will have a vital role in the growth of the UK economy by moving our exports and imports.
“Hapag-Lloyd, by naming its ship in the UK, shows it has great confidence the country will exploit new opportunities that arise from Brexit.”
 Chris Lewis, CEO, DP World London Gateway, said: “We’re extremely proud to have hosted the official naming ceremony of Hapag-Lloyd’s Afif today and further cement our strong relationship.
“Hapag-Lloyd has been a key early customer and supporter of DP World London Gateway and we are pleased to collaborate with everyone in the supply chain to give UK shippers fast, reliable and safe access to a global network via Hapag-Lloyd.”
DP World London Gateway links the UK to more than 100 ports in over 60 different countries, offering Hapag-Lloyd AG the ability to connect with markets and customers all over the world.