The following article was originally published in the newspaper Arbetaren, March 1995. We have translated it from SAC's internal bulletin number 4-1995 (now called Syndikalisten, the same name as the paper of the Norsk Syndikistisk Forbund) After this was written, about 2000 workers of the SAC have left the Organisation.
WHAT IS HAPPENING IN THE SAC?
The SAC is now being shaken by the most serious internal conficts since the end of the 1920's. Two local branches (LS) have already decided to leave the Organisation: Six branches have decided to withold dues to the central Organisation until the Central Committee calls a new Congress and suspends the increase of dues. In another ten, or so branches the members are now voting over what their position will be.
The reasons for the crisis can be traced a long way back. There has for a long time been discontent in many branches over the cost of the central activity. After the 1987 Congress decided to raise dues, a number of smaller branches either left the organisation or were expelled. Among these were Ludvika Farila, and Torsby. These have organised themselves in the "Fri Facklig Samarbetsorganisasjon.(FFS).
The,economy of the SAC has lately become even worse. One thing is that the number of members paying dues has been somewhat reduced,another thing is that the dues have been little increased, and not altered from 1990 to 1995.
The SAC's newspaper Arbetaren is nmning at a loss which has made the situation worse. For a long time these losses-in the later years between two and three million Swedish crowns per year have been covered by the profits of the (SAC owned) printing house Tryckeri AB Federativs. This printing house, the publishers Federativs and SAC property Sveavagen 98 in Stockholm have been orgamsed as one cornpany. The printing house and the property have traditionally run at a profit, while the newspaper and the publishers have run at a loss. The system has been a means of securing SAC's ability to both publish newspapers and books.
However, Federativs printers have during the last few years run at a loss, and later broke even, with the result that the economy has landed in trouble. The SAC has been forced to contribute money. 1994 ended with a profit of 800 000 crowns for the printers, while the budgeted profit for 1995 is over a million. However, these results are still not good enough to cover the loss in the newspaper.
SAC's Congress in 1994 decided by a big majority to to publish the newspaper in spite of the cost. The same Congress decided to reduce the number of full time district officials (ombudsman) from ten to "at least seven", the question to be investigated in the course of the autumn.
These officals are employed on five-year contracts. Three of these expired during 1994. The Executive Committee (AU) after consulting the officials, to extend these contracts until it had been decided how many district officials there would be in the future. As time passed and nothing was decided during the autumn, the contracts were extended to 28th February 1995. Questions were being asked in many of the branches and districts concerned on what was really going on- there had never been any consultations between the districts and the SAC centrally on the question of the full-time officials.
The Congress decision necessitated an increase of dues, but to consolidate this, it was not voted at the Congress, but at a general ballot among the membership in the autumn. By an extremely narrow margin, the ballot decided to increase the dues by 40 crowns for full-paying members. The ballot led to sharp reactions, 19 branches demanding in December a new ballot. The demand was for the postponement of the mcrease of the dues until a National Conference on the economy of the SAC was held. The Central Committee discussed the demand at a meeting in the middle of January, and decided to prepare a National Conference. It decided not to freeze the dues increase ,but to take out only 20 crowns from January 1996 and another 10 from January 1997. The Central Committee decided to inform the critical branches of these compromise decisions, and to hold a referendum quickly if they were dissatisfied.
The committee decided also to assist the SAC press with one million to the magazine Syndikalisten (SAC's internal bulletin) and one million to the newspaper, contributions which implied that both would have to cut their costs. A further half million is budgeted, but to be paid only on specified application. The committee decided lastly that the number of the district officials should be 8,5. Until the members could vote over who should have the appointments, the jobs would be offered the former officials, but on short-term contracts.
However, the decisions of the Central Committee did not satisfy those who had been discontented. Active members from about 20 branches (LS) assembled on the 10th-11th February at a conference in Grangesberg. They found that the earlier demand for a referendum was not good enough. The majority of those present supported the demand that the Central Committee should summon an Extra Congress. The dues and the present number of officials should be frozen until the congress be held. They demanded also that the economical decisions of the former congress- including support to the newspaper- be frozen. The majority recommended also the branches to withold their dues to the SAC until the Central Committee accepted its demands.
After the conference in Grangesberg, several branches have voted over its recommendations. Sundsvall and Ramsele branches have decided to leave the SAC. Vaxjo, Stensele, Eslov, Helsmgborg, Snapphanebygden and presumably Lund branches have decided to withhold affiliation dues. Eskilstuna branch supports the Grangesberg demands, but will pay its dues. Sveg and Bollnas branches declared that they will for the time being accept the decision of the Central Committee meeting in January. Ballots are still taking place in several other branches, including Alvdalen.
For the Swedish Workers Centre
From Syndikalisten 7/8-1995
SAC internal Bulletin