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The situation at SIPRI - Sam PF's Journal
April 9th, 2014
01:49 pm


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The situation at SIPRI
Further to my previous post. The Chair of my union, ST, has actually made a statement about the situation at SIPRI, posted to their website. It says pretty much similar things to the previous press report, but it also attaches a letter sent by the two trade unions to the Cabinet Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, that is responsible for SIPRI. The text of the letter is here. My translation is below. I have capitalized some specific Swedish legal terms that translate rather oddly.

I will not add anything save to say that I fully support my Union's actions in this matter.

ST and SACO-S organize around 85% of the employees at SIPRI. We have been contacted by the local elected officials about an unsustainable work environment situation that has gone on for the past year and has now escalated. We believe that the employer has breached its responsibility to carry out systematic Work Environment Work according to AFS 2001:01 and has not observed its rehabilitation responsibilities under the Social Insurance Code 2010110. Despite the fact that the employer has been aware of the problem they have not taken forward appropriate measures and the work environment has powerfully worsened.

We are deeply concerned about the work environment situation at SIPRI and demand today that Special Protective Measures be taken forward in accordance with Chapter 6 Section 6 of the Work Environment Law. This may also involve us closing the workplace since there is a danger to our members’ life and health. We would like to draw particular attention to the fact that there is more than one person at SIPRI with suicidal thoughts. This is alarming, and if it is not dealt with in a professional manner, we fear that it could become a bigger catastrophe than what happened in Krokom municipality.[1]

During a joint meeting with ST and SACO-S members on April 2nd, we carried out a simple work environment survey using a 12-question questionnaire. Our goal was to gain an understanding of how the work environment at SIPRI operates, and to try to understand the problems. Below is a summary of the results. There were 26 respondents to the survey.

- 16 of the 26 respondents states that they had experienced degrading or discriminatory treatment in various forms. Of these, 14 stated that the Director had behaved in an intimidating manner.
- 22 of the 26 respondents suffer from stress-related problems (manifesting itself in for example sleep problems, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, miscarriage, high blood pressure, pressure in the chest, and others). These cases are directly related to the Director’s treatment of staff
- 23 of the 26 choose to a great extent to work from home whenever possible because of the work environment at the workplace, rather than to take sick leave.
- 24 of the 25 have experienced no improvement since the last work environment survey, but rather the opposite.
- All 26 respondents are actively seeking other employment due to the work environment at SIPRI (some are ready to resign even if they don’t have a new job).

Of the 25 cases of staff turnover in the past year, out of around 50 total employees, several of the terminated employments can be directly linked to the Director’s actions.

The consistent voice of those currently working at SIPRI is that they love their job and their work tasks. They long for a peaceful work situation and a good work environment so that they can focus whole-heartedly on their work. Today, the reality is very different. The situation is one of an unsustainable work situation that is linked to terms and conditions of employment, but above all to the psychosocial work environment that relates to a deep mistrust of the Director. (In a letter that was presented to SIPRI’s governing board, 79% of research staff and 80% of senior support staff stated that they did not have confidence in the Director). The local union experiences a strong unwillingness and resistance from the Director to manage these matters in accordance with labour law. They also experience a powerful lack of understanding on the part of the Director of Swedish laws and agreements. The work environment situation at SIPRI has escalated over the past few months, despite the management being aware of the problems. Eleven Grievance Procedures on different types of issues have been submitted, and more will be. The local cooperation agreement was yesterday terminated by both ST and SACO-S. ST also terminated the Collective Agreement,[2] which SACO also intends to do shortly.

A Work Environment survey in spring 2013 displayed a deficient work environment. Resulting from this survey, a further investigation was carried out in autumn 2013 by a therapist, Lena McEvenu. The latter investigation revealed a clear deterioration in the work environment. The employer will not release this survey (a summarized oral report was given to the staff), either to the Chief Protection Ombudsman [at SIPRI] or to the unions. According to our local union representatives, this survey identifies the Director as the source of the work environment problem at SIPRI. We consider that the employer does not take Work Environment Work seriously, and likewise displays an unwillingness to work from a common platform with the unions on these questions. We also consider that this is severely affecting SIPRI’s work. SIPRI has already lost important competencies, risks losing further competencies, and will have a difficult time in recruiting new competencies. We know that this applies to all levels within SIPRI, from managers to researchers to assistants.

Although the union members have handed in a vote of no confidence in the leadership’s judgement and handling of the work environment to SIPRI’s Governing Board, they have not received a hearing. The local trade union ombudsmen have acted in accordance with the rights given them by both law and agreements, but have had no response and has therefore turned to their respective central organizations for support and help. We now urge you to take appropriate measures, in which case we will be open to withdrawing the measures we have taken and sitting down for further dialogue.

Sofia Holmqvist, ST Trade Union
Camilla Grön

Current local documents attached for information
The Work Environment Authority has been copied for information

[1] See http://www.thelocal.se/20140219/bully-bosses-convicted-for-co-workers-suicide
[2] Relating to specific employment terms and conditions at SIPRI

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(9 comments | Leave a comment)

[User Picture]
Date:April 9th, 2014 01:23 pm (UTC)


Good luck dealing with all this.
[User Picture]
Date:April 9th, 2014 01:26 pm (UTC)

I was shocked by that. I can confirm that it means miscarriage. Shit.

Edited at 2014-04-09 02:46 pm (UTC)
[User Picture]
Date:April 9th, 2014 11:02 pm (UTC)
Gods. I mean, I knew from all you'd said that it was bad. I didn't quite grasp the scale of the problem.

And... miscarriage? How utterly awful. :-(

I shall be hoping and praying that this letter has its due and just effect.
[User Picture]
Date:April 10th, 2014 12:07 am (UTC)

Yeah, God.

There's stuff there I didn't know. It's got much, much worse in the past couple of months.
[User Picture]
Date:April 9th, 2014 11:53 pm (UTC)
Yikes. Beer tomorrow night?
[User Picture]
Date:April 10th, 2014 12:00 am (UTC)
Very beer. Much whisky.
[User Picture]
Date:April 10th, 2014 12:04 am (UTC)
So very Oban. (I think I still have some, anyway.)
[User Picture]
Date:April 10th, 2014 02:31 pm (UTC)
Yeesh :(

I hope this does at least have some effect.
[User Picture]
Date:April 12th, 2014 08:40 pm (UTC)
Wow. That sounds appalling. Really hope it can be improved.
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