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Bonus Debate

Political Row Continues Over Giant Pension, Demands for Re-payment

Published måndag 30 mars 2009 kl 10.46
Trade union leader, Wanja Lundby-Wedin

The debate continues in Sweden over the roll of the head of the blue collar trade union confederation and the giant pension paid to the retired former head of the AMF insurance company – jointly owned by this confederation and by the confederation of Swedish Enterprise.

Sitting on the AMF board, the union leader Vanja Lundby- Wedin has called an unusual night-time press conference to repeat her insistence that she was tricked into approving the giant pension.

She adds that she is not going to resign despite some sharp criticism from union members and others.

After looking at a preliminary report about how the pension money has been paid out over the last years, she maintains that she and other board members were led to believe that the giant payment was merely a fulfilment of earlier commitments.

She is also demanding that the retired boss pay back a third of the 7 million US dollars in pension he has received.

The board chairman himslef has come out in support of the labor leader by claiming that the board was not correctly informed about the pension payments, but he feels it’s too early to decided on any figure to be re-paid.

Political commentators say the night-time press conference and the demand for repayment is an attempt to save the labor leader’s job in the face of savage criticism that she sits on too many other boards to know what’s going on. She had been gaining much popular support by publicly condemning the fat bonuses paid to bosses in both private and state companies and institutions - even when making huge losses and firing employees.

With the unions closely united to the opposition Social Democratic Party hoping to regain power in the elections 18 months off, some fear that the union leader will hurt their chances and help the center-right government coalition remain in power.

The latest public opinion polls continue to see the dwindling of the once substantial double-digit lead held by the opposition – including the Greens and the Left Party hoping to form a new Red-Green coalition government.

The ruling center-right coalition is less than 4% behind the opposition in voter support.

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