Swedish Painters: “We have to stand up for every worker in our sectors”

“Recruit and organise” was the theme of the Swedish Painters’ Union Congress, held in Stockholm on August 26-27.

Due to deregulations of the labour market the union has lost many members in recent years, but around 80 per cent of all painters in Sweden are still members. The share of young and women members is also constantly growing.

“To organise new members is our most important task. 80 per cent is not enough. We have to reach out also to those who are self-employed or don’t have formal employment. We have to stand up for each and every worker in our sectors,” said the president Mikael Johansson during his speech.

Formed in 1887, the Swedish Painters’ Union is the oldest union that still exists in Sweden.

“It is incredible to think that your union has been around for more than 100 years, fighting for the rights and dignity of painters all around Sweden. This kind of union power is needed now more than ever. According to the ILO more than 60 per cent of all workers are stuck in temporary, part time and precarious work with no security or social benefits,” said BWI’s general secretary Ambet Yuson when addressing the congress.

During the congress the union also started raising funds for the Nepalese unions' work to help victims of the earthquake that hit Nepal in April.

Ambet Yuson thanked the painters for this initiative.

“More than 9,000 lives were taken and hundreds of thousands of people lost their homes. Many of our members in Nepal are still sleeping outside, in tents or temporary shelters. I want to thank your union’s contribution which will help the Nepalese unions can increase their efforts to rebuild destroyed buildings and distribute food, blankets and tents to earthquake victims,” said Ambet Yuson.

After the speech 100 000 Swedish kronors were handed out as a check (11 930 USD) to support the work of BWI’s Nepalese unions in this work.

At the congress Mikael Johansson was re-elected as president, Jan Olof-Gustavsson and Peter Sjöstrand were ellected vice presidents.