SWEDEN: Trollhattan blue collar jobless rate could hit 20% following Saab bankrutpcy

By Simon Warburton | 20 December 2011

A major Saab union is cautioning blue collar unemployment in Trollhättan could soar to 20% following the automaker's bankruptcy, although it also claims to know of two possible buyers for the manufacturer.

The automaker employs nearly 4,000 people directly, but previous speculation has put the redundancy toll at up to 10,000 as the ripple effect from Saab's demise potentially hits suppliers too.

Of more immediate concern to employees is whether or not they will receive overdue wages for November and December salaries less than a week before Christmas.

Swedish officials yesterday (19 December) told just-auto they would be pushing for wages to be paid before the holiday period, with the Swedish government picking up salaries up to a maximum of SEK171,000 (US$25,000) divided by the average monthly Saab wage of SEK24,000.

"It is very hard in Trollhättan," IF Metall legal adviser Darko Davidovic told just-auto from Sweden. "The unemployment rate could go to 20% - it is about 11% now.

"Now, with the bankruptcy and the lay-offs, it will be 20%. For white-collar, it might be less."

Asked whether the situation was grim for his members, Davidovic replied "very," adding: "We hope and we have talked to every authority that is involved to do everything we can to at least get the November salaries paid before Christmas.

The Vanersborg District Court has formally confirmed Saab's bankruptcy placing with Hans Bergqvist from Delphi in Gothenburg and Anne-Marie Pouteaux at Wistrand Law Firm in the same city, appointed as trustees.

"We have seen they [lawyers] have already filed for the money to be paid out as soon as possible," said Davidovic, who also issued a plea that Saab be sold whole if possible not "piece by piece."

IF Metall will be discussing any such disposals with the law firms during today, insisting: "We know there are a couple of buyers that want to buy the whole company, but the main issue is still GM.

"It is hard to buy something when you don't know if you can use it. It always is the same problem - GM.

The IF Metall legal adviser also revealed former Saab CEO Victor Muller had been "totally relieved" of his duties. "No-one from the old board, from [the] company is involved," he said. "When you go in bankruptcy, you don't have even the right to be there."