Carrol Daily Times Herald from Carroll, Iowa on March 30, 1976 · Page 7
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Carrol Daily Times Herald from Carroll, Iowa · Page 7

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Carroll, Iowa
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Tuesday, March 30, 1976
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Page 7
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Sweden's Corporate Approach: Union Man on the Company Payroll By Murray Olderman SODERTALJE, Sweden — (NEA) — The daily routine of Torvald Lindfors is unvarying in its variety. Torvald works in the truck assembly plant of the Saab-Scania company in this suburban city 40 kilometers (about 25 miles) southwest of Stockholm. He gets there every morning at 7:30 and starts walking up and down the different lines of workers in their job niches. He doesn't get very far down the first line before he's stopped. That's when he samples the variety of his job. Torvald is a union representative. But he's like none you find in Detroit or Birmingham or Peoria. He's on the company payroll, and his sole function since he took on the job last February, is to listen to complaints of his fellow workers — with the ears of a union man. He was elected by his coworkers to be their representative in the . plant. "If I start on the north end of the building." says Torvald, who's dressed in the same working blues as everybody N. Korea Unable to Pay Debts By Barry J.Shlachter TOKYO (AP) — North Korea has fallen $60 million behind in payments for Japanese imports, but businessmen here say there is little that can be done to collect from a sovereign nation without the funds to pay. . A senior manager of a major Tokyo bank to which North Korea owes millions of ... dollars said the North Korean international debt problem took a turn for the worse recently when it requested a two-year moratorium on paying roughly the equivalent of $280 million to Japanese banks and trading companies. • "We can collect from the (Japanese) government's export insurance program," said the banker, who asked to remain anonymous. "But then North Korea would be immediately blacklisted — ineligible for further coverage — and they would feel it was practically a declaration of war." North Korea's troubles.can be traced to 1973, when it went on a spree in the West, ordering expensive plant equipment to boost production in time for the 30th anniversary of its Communist party in 1975. These were North Korea's ' first purchases outside the Communist bloc and the experience proved economic disaster for President Kim II- sung's government in Pyongyang, the capital. Unfamiliar with fluctuating capitalist markets, the North Koreans had intended to pay for the imported machinery with mineral exports to the West, Their calculations went awry when recession struck West Europe and Japan, forcing down the prices and demand for their exports, mainly zinc and copper ore. Payments to West German, Swedish and Japanese banks began funning late near the end of 1974, and it's been downhill for Pyongyang ever since. One Japanese source said North Korean debts in West Europe are estimated at $400 million to $1 billion. North Korea, with one of the else, "I can't make it to the south end in two hours." "Why," a worker asked him, "is the foreman always standing behind me when I work? I don't like it." "I'll have to speak to the foreman," says Torvald, "to see if the complaint has any validity." Torvald Lindfors is a curly-haired, stockily built 38-year-old native of Finland (but of Swedish parents) who, along with 100 other Fins from a little paper mill town called Tolkis, migrated to the Saab-Scania (sobskon-yeh) plant here in Sodertalje (roughly, ser-der-tol-yeh) a decade ago. "In Finland, he recalls, "I wasn't interested in the union movement." But his bilingual ability, which made him a translator for the other Finns, involved him with union activities at the Chassis Assembly Building, where he worked as a fitter helping turn out 50 Scania L-140 trucks a • day. And a year ago, he was elected the workers' most secretive societies in the world, refuses to supply its Western creditors with' basic economic data so they can determine the North Koreans' ability to repay. Sweden agreed last month to a two-year moratorium on the $45.7 million North Korea owes to Volvo and other Swedish companies. But at least one major Japanese bank has refused to follow suit. An officer of the bank, who 'asked that its name be withheld because of possible repercussions from North Korea, said it had cabled North Korea's central bank that it would not go along with the postponement and cited lack of information on the North Korean economy as part of the reason. North Korean payments still occasionally trickle in to selected Japanese firms, "so they must have some foreign currency reserves on hand," he said. "But until they let us know just how much, no one can expect us to accept their new set of terms, announced to us indirectly and without consultation." Japan has been North Korea's biggest non-Communist trading partner, but the two countries have no diplomatic relations, making the payments problem a highly sensitive one in Tokyo. Japanese government officials are urging restraint in pursuing the problem with North Korea amid efforts to keep what relations there are unruffled, sources said. A Foreign Ministry spokesman denied such "ministerial guidance." The firms have no one to turn to but the private Japan-North Korea Trade Association, set up by Japanese trading companies, which sent an unsuccessful mission to Pyongyang last year trying to speed up payments. Representatives of Italy, France, West Germany, Japan and Sweden met in Paris last fall to discuss the North Korean payment problem but no decision on how to deal with it was made, informed sources said. North Korea's arrears surprised many Western banks which have had good experiences in the past making loans to Communist countries in East Europe. *~ (Iowa Bookshelf THE LIFE OF BERTRAND RUSSELL. By Ronald W. Clark (Alfred A. Knopf $17.50) Mr. Clark is not awed by his subject, and brilliantly depicts this aristocratic and eccentric genius. Russell's .life as a loner began when, orphaned by the death of his parents, he became isolated and thus commenced a life dedicated to intellectual pursuits. Although there were many Russells, , three roles dominate his career: the scholar in the fields of mathematics and philosophy, .the pacifist and political propagandist jailed during World War I by the British and the most articulate opponent to the Vietnam war, and unfortunately, the constant womanizer who carefully documented this aspect of his life, involving four marriages, and numerous affairs, by daily correspondence, none of which seems to have been destroyed. Although his intellectual accomplishments and courage to espouse unpopular causes makes fascinating reading, one feels that Russell was a little patronizing in his view of the average man on the street, despite his left wing leanings, and his treatment of the many women in his life discloses a cruel side to his nature which is inconsistent with his humanistic views. Readers may also recoil at the contempt with which he viewed the American scene in which he ventured only for money. Nevertheless, the story of this enigmatic genius, warts and all, is highly recommended, and would to God that the modern political scene contained men of something approaching his stature. — R. Choate representative for this building (the Saab-Scania operation here also has a huge foundry and an engine factory which produces 70,000 annually for Saab autos.) "It's not very liked," he says in English, which he has been studying for a couple of years. "Lots of headaches. But you can meet people. It's interesting." So are the surroundings. The plant is modern and functional, tailored for worker comfort. It is unusual to see a flower garden tucked between assembly lines, with exotic tropical plants flourishing. A few yards away, Bo Jarnsjo, who works wor management, points out a pretty blonde in one of the assembly units and says, "There is another flower." There are kiosks for refreshments and sundries and a lending library for workers. Swedish workers are very hip on working ambience^ and on their space in" corporate society. In early 1973, a new law was passed, requiring employe Astrology Wednesday March 31, 1976 Bernice Bede OSD ARIES (March 21-April 19) Through your intentions are good today, others may not fully approve of your methods. Consider their views. TAURUS (April 20-May 20) You may have a tendency today to give up too easily if what you hope to accomplish can't be done at once. Hang in there. GEMINI (May 21-June 20) Don't take financial risks today in unfamiliar areas, or on people you know little about. It could prove expensive. CANCER (June 21-July 22) You may find yourself more in the spotlight than you realize today. Don't do anything to jeopardize your standing. LEO (July 23-Aug. 22) Usually you have a rather optimistic outlook. Today, you could prejudge situations negatively before they even occur. VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22) Someone who has borrowed from you, and who has not yet totally paid up, may seek to borrow again today. LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 23) Today your actions may be hampered because you're overly concerned with their effect on associates. Try to please yourself first. SCORPIO (Oct. 24-Nov. 22) Treat co-workers as diplomatically as possible today or you might experience a minor insurrection. Sugarcoat your demands. SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 23-Dec. 21) In social situations today, put your best foot forward. If you're not on guard you may do something to make a poor impression. CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19) Temporarily set aside a task which may have a doubtful outcome. Tackle it in a day or so, when you're in a more positive frame of mind. AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 19) Give yourself a little reprieve today from pursuits of a mental nature. Do something that's fun — but physical, as well. PISCES (Feb. 20-March 20) It would be wise to keep a tight rein on your purse strings today. Don't assume new obligations unless they're essential. < YOUR BIRTHDAY March 31,1976 You're an adventurous soul to begin with, but this year you may even be more enterprising. Look for unusual opportunities that may come your way through family contacts. BABY BAPTIZED x Jennifer Marie Quandt, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Daniel Quandt of Carroll, was baptized March 28 at Holy Spirit Church by the Rt. Rev. Msgr. Leo Lenz, V.F. Sponsors were the baby's aunt and uncle, Denise Quandt of Carroll and David Welter of LeMars. Jennifer was born March 17 at St. Anthony Regional Hospital. Grandparents are Mr. and Mrs. Norman Quandt of Carroll and Mr. and Mrs. Arnold Welter of LeMars. Tit* American R*4 Crosi the good neighbor. Tlmet Herald, Carroll, la. *J Tuesday, March 30, 1976 * representatives on the boards of companies with 100 or more employes. Now a revolutionary new bill comes before the Swedish parliament in early spring which will give workers codetermination in company business, letting them share the decision-making process in corporate affairs. "The workers are a big part of a factory," says Lindfors. "Today, the decision is made before we're involved. There is no discussion. The meaning for us to have decision powers is not to take money away but to make more money for the company. We have no money to put in but we put ourselves in." This is a view shared by Prime Minister Olof Palme, whose Social Democratic party is obviously favorable to -labor's aims and is the author of Paragraph 32 to provide codetermination in running a corporation. "It's not enough in an educated society," says Palme, "just working for wages. Management has understood that the experience of the workers is a great asset for production. Some people put capital in a firm. We put in the most important thing we have — our work. And our work entitles us to participate." Lindfors says, ."1 think it's the right way." Because he has a vested interest. He earns 4,000 Swedish kroner a month. His wife, who works as an equipment instructor in a nearby medical supply factory, makes 3,500 kroner a month. Between them, they are earning more than $20,000 a year. "I'm saving all the time," says Torvald, "because I want to buy a house." The ultimate Swedish dream. A house costs at least $60,000 in his neck of the woods. They have a 14-year-old son. "I want him to understand he should read," says Lindfors. "I quit school when I was 14." Does the son understand? "He wants to go to work right away — to make money." Lindfors is on a self-improvement kick. He reads English one night a week. Union education sessions absorb another night. He plays squash one night a week and there are communal activities such as folklore dancing classes. "It is not easy to get into cultural activities." he says. "We work too long. Eight hours a day. It is too much. We are tired." And they, like all Swedes in this heavily socialized society, are highly taxed. The Lindfors family is in the 40 per cent bracket. "Taxes are high," he admits. ''But you get something for it." Besides which, unlike his own role during the day, there is no one to whom Torvald Lindfors can complain directly. 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