No Bonuses for Swedish State Company Bosses, Union Leader Under Fire
Bowing to a wave of criticism, the Swedish center-right coalition government has made an about face and decided to stop all bonuses and other additional wage benefits for top bosses at state companies.
The bosses are to receive only the salaries stipulated in their contracts.
This comes after revelations that a number of private and state companies, banks and other institutions have been handing out huge top-level bonuses - even when the companies have suffered major losses and have been receiving state credit packages to save them from going bankrupt.
Opposition politicians, labor unions and news paper editorial writers and the man-on-the street have been blasting what they call the greed of the highly-paid bosses giving themselves even more benefits while the companies are begging for hand-outs from the tax payers - and while unemployment is rising and social welfare benefits have been reduced.
Meanwhile, a political storm has broken out over the 8 million dollars in pension benefits awarded to the retiring head of the giant AMF pension company owned equally by the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise and the blue-collar Swedish Trade Union Confederation (LO).
Vanja Lundby Vedin is the head of LO and has been critical of the top-level pensions. But she also sits on the AMF board for a large extra fee - and revelations show that she and the rest of the board approved the giant pension payments to the retiring boss back in 2004.
She claims she was tricked into approving this payment but the former company chief insists the board was well aware of his benefits.
Although the leaders of some of Sweden’s biggest unions are supporting the LO chief, some union critics are demanding that she resign – as did her predecessor did when it was revealed that also he approved fat pension benefits for top level bosses.
The headlines are especially scorching now after the news that the Swedish pension funds have suffered huge stock market losses because of the financial crisis - and pensioners here in Sweden are to receive lower payments next year.
AMF is now carrying out an investigation into how this giant extra pension benefit was decided in 2004 and if the board received full information.
For more information, listen to our report on the bonus scandals from yesterday’s programme: