Book Kiruna LKAB Media

Gruvans makt i radion

Gruvans makt i Sveriges Radios Meänraatio. Det är hela avsnittet som sänds, Johan pratar under tiden 6.01-12.01 och LKABs presschef Anders Lindberg pratar under tiden 12.50-18.22. Klicka här för att komma direkt till avsnittet.

Foto: Regina Veräjä.

Kiruna LKAB Media

In the news

Our project is in the news in an interview with Tommy in several Swedish newspapers. Check it out at Svenska Dagbladet by clicking here (in Swedish).

Iron Kiruna LKAB Luleå Management Media Politician

Annual meeting

Yesterday, Johan attended LKAB:s annual meeting in Luleå, Sweden. It was an interesting, maybe even odd, experience (see a picture gallery further down).

A lot of suits, difficult to know how many attended, maybe 50 people. I feel rather alone in my hoodie (or bunny-hug as they say in Saskatchewan). Besides top management and board members of LKAB, the Swedish Minister of Industry, Mikael Damberg, was there, our national superstar Charlotte Kalla (cross-country skier, sponsored by LKAB), all the relevant media (state television and radio, local newspapers), the Mayor of Kiruna, the former Governor of Norrbotten etc.

Except for a few of those present, we’re there to watch and listen. This is a ceremony, a staged performance. LKAB has 700 000 stocks and all of them are owned by the Swedish state. The annual meeting, that is, is a dialogue between two persons, the chairman of the board (also elected as the chairman of the meeting) and a young man sent by the state. This creates an almost comical situation. Even the chairman couldn’t help smile once in a while. The chairman says: “Can the meeting approve of the agenda?” The young man from the state says: “Yes”. He’s the state, the meeting, the people. A company owned by us the people, channeled through this one person. It’s a very apparent case of the Leviathan (as in the state, and also as in all LKAB:s mines) being represented and translated by individuals (as in Alex Golub’s Leviathans at the gold mine, 2014).

Three keynotes are delivered, one by the chairman, one by the new CEO, and one by the Minister of Industry. With a special eye to Kiruna, our case, the chairman mentions the process of moving parts of Kiruna and about the company’s “extended role” (I interpret it as the company is not only a mining company, but also city planner and a construction company). The CEO also mentions Kiruna, but it has more to do with troubles with the works (one “bärring” had to be replaced) and with some of the shafts. This led to the value of the assets in Kiruna being written off with 7 billion Swedish crowns. It is also mentioned that given the troubles of getting the stone up from the Kiruna mine, the open pit iron ore mines in Svappavaara (about 60 km from Kiruna) will feed the Kiruna mine with goods, thereby being explicitly drawn into the labor process of the Kiruna mine.

Once the official meeting is over, there is no invitation for questions, but the head of communication interviews Charlotte Kalla on stage and two awards are handed out, one to a women floorball team in Kiruna/Pajala and one to an artist from Koskullskulle. They get 50000 Swedish crowns each. Then there are hors-d’œuvre and mingle time. I get to meet some old acquaintances.

Photos by Johan Sandström:

Book Kiruna LKAB Management Media Union Worker

Working hard or hardly working?

On March 18, local newspapers report that two workers at LKAB:s iron ore mine in Malmberget (125 km from Kiruna) have been caught furnishing a secret sleeping room at work. On March 26, they are fired. Two other workers chose to resign.

On March 20, we arrive in Kiruna, and the first person we meet is the man delivering the rental car. He is born and raised in Kiruna, and used to work in the Kiruna mine when he was younger. About miners sleeping at work, also in the Kiruna mine, he just laugh: “Everybody knows!”.

Yes, we’ve also heard this from our many conversations with workers, managers and others in Kiruna, although we must state that we have never seen one of these sleeping spaces ourselves. We have, however, met those who said that they can point such a space out to us. Reactions in social media also reveal that “sleepworkers” seems to be a well-known phenomenon, although this is questioned by the company’s information manager as a way of talking without necessarily knowing that this phenomenon exists in practice.

Both a union representative and the company’s information manager state that sleeping during formal breaks is okay, but not when you’re supposed to work. Perhaps we have to be self-critical, the information manager adds, how this particular case could be allowed to happen.

Several questions are actualized by this event. Assuming that sleeping at work, to a large or small extent, is a real phenomenon,

  • why bring this to media, at this particular time? On March 20, the CEO is in the papers talking about difficult years to come. Does this have anything to do with going public with the sleepworkers?
  • where is management? The workers are revealed and fired, but what about managers? If this is well-known by people outside the gates, it must be known by managers as well. It seems that only the sleeping workers are held responsible and what message is thereby sent to workers (and managers and external stakeholders)?
  • how is it that sleepworkers’ efforts are not made visible? Their efforts should be missed by management and made visible when performance is measured, no?

Underground workers we’ve met talk about the importance of a good work morale and that those workers who work should be at work, nobody else (see the first video with Ronja from October 22, 2015, and the one with Göran from October 15, 2015, for example). We recently heard from an underground worker that they now work harder than ever in order to handle the pressure to increase productivity. In Swedish: “Vi sliter som aldrig förr”. But still, some workers are not.

Swedish sociologist Roland Paulsen, in his book “Empty labor” (Cambridge University Press, 2014), states that: ”sleeping employees represent a theoretical challenge to the supposed rationality of wage labor” (xiii). Empty labor, as “everything you do at work that is not your work” (p 5), is not only very common but also very under-researched, particularly if we see beyond collective ideas about idleness and workplace resistance and zoom in on how and why individuals manage to not work at work. After all, empty labor “can be a trap; it can be a way of coping, a personal pleasure, or a type of sabotage, depending on the organizational context and the subjective intent of the employee” (p 41).

Does sleepworking imply that organizational rationality has to be re-thought, so as to make room for (but not necessarily accept) sleepworking as part of a rational phenomena of organizations, or does it infer a stronger focus to defend the current, dominant discourse of organizational rationality? We lean towards the former (and towards studies – and others – that take such a perspective seriously).

Aboriginals Kiruna LKAB Media Music

What local people? Us local people!

The two sisters Maxida och Mimie Märak were the source of inspiration for this song by Tommy. Their energy in the (as shown in a four episodes documentary broadcasted by the Swedish state television, SVT) made it necessary to grab the pen and the guitar. Please find a proper stereo to play it; if you use a telephone, then at least use headphones.

In the documentary (episode 2), The Sápmi sisters claim their rights through rap, yoik and dance. They are an interesting example of how it is possible to find ways to “speak up” and resist. They are also an example on how younger generations are trying to secure a continuous Sámi struggle; a struggle that does not imply “victory over the other part”, but rather a struggle resulting in better dialogues between the state, the corporations and the indigenous, local, people.

Another source of inspiration, also found in the documentary, is a scene when a corporation has a Public Relations event. The man talking is Clive Sinclair-Poulton, representing Beowulf Mining, and he says that ”I show this slide primarily for the people in UK and Ireland because one of the major questions I get is what are the local people gonna say about this project. And I show them this picture and I say ‘what local people?’” (the picture is all nature, taken near Jokkmokk).

This example of “what local people?” is relevant because it represents a common story on how indigenous people are marginalized (on many places on this earth) and how they lose in court. It is also a story that are backed up by academic research – both in terms of relations to corporations (see e.g. Subhabrata Bobby Banerjee, 1, Naomi Klein, 2) and in relation to the state (e.g. Bradley Reed Howard, 3). For example, they do not share the notion of property rights, an essential part of the jurisdictional lingua franca in the Western part of the world (e.g. Helen Verran, 4). The same story can be found in Kiruna and the state-owned company LKAB’s relation to the Sámi people, e.g. in recent years primarily concerning the villages Gabna and Laevas who are both affected by the movement of Kiruna town (e.g. 4 below).


Us local people?

Text, music, instruments, lead vocals, production: Tommy Jensen

Backing vocals: Pia Jensen

The song Us local people contains a short excerpt from Sofia-Jannok and the jojk “Yoik of the wind”.


A room of ties

Camera flashes

Silver grey speaks

Its all nature

What about locals?

The crowd asks

”What local people”

The grey says


No mans land

Says local people

Its on loan

To freely roam

Herding reindeers’

Telling stories

Chanting the yoik

For at least 2500 years


Us global people

We the few

We the elite

Earth’s real nomads

We will fight

And keep tell

What local people?

What local people?


What local people

Us local people

We the few

We the north

We in Sápmi

We will fight

To claim our rights


Laplanders in

A territorial vague land

Don’t call it clash of civilization

In the name of mixophobia and purity

In the name of mixophobia and purity

In the name of mixophobia and purity

Recognize the property rights view

Where to own – all things are commoditized

Is to control – all things are optimized

Is to rule – all things are capitalized

Is to exploit – we are all victimized

Be it animals, plants or people

Be it minerals, soil or rocks


In a legal room

Full of suits and Gákti

There was heat

But only one part will take the beat

A man with a black tie

But with the white noise

Spoke in the name

Of the business model


In the silent court

A woman voiced

Through syllabic


The Sámi tongue

Called for luondu

And all things intrinsic value


The judge favored

Capital injection

Said goodbye with a

Bang for your buck


But we will fight

To keep our right

What else can we do



1. Banerjee Subhabrata Bobby Banerjee (2000), “Whose land is it anyway? National interest, indigenous stakeholders and colonial discourses: The case of the Jabiluka uranium mine”. Organization & Environment, 13(11), p.3-38.

Banerjee Subhabrata Bobby Banerjee (2003), “The practice of stakeholder colonialism: National interest and colonial discourses in the management of indigenous stakeholders.” In Prasad, A. (ed.), Postcolonial Theory and Organizational Analysis. New York: Palgrave.

Banerjee Subhabrata Bobby Banerjee (2007), ‘Corporate Social Responsibility: The Good, The Bad and the Ugly. ‘, Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.

2. Klein, Naomi. (2014), This Changes Everything: Capitalism Against the Climate. New

York: Simon & Schuster.

3. Bradley Reed Howard (2003), Indigenous people and the state: The struggle for native rights. Northern Illinois University Press.

4. Verran, Helen (1998), ‘Re-Imagining Land Ownership in Australia’, Postcolonial Studies, 1: 237-254.

Verran, H & Christie, M. (2011) Doing Difference Together – Towards a Dialogue with Aboriginal Knowledge Authorities Through an Australian Comparative Empirical Philosophical Inquiry, Culture and Dialogue, 1(2), 21-36.

Verran, H. (2011), “Imagining Nature Politics in the Era of Australia’s Emerging Market in Environmental Services Interventions.” Special Issue: “The Politics of Imagination.” J. Latimer & B. Skeggs, eds. The Sociological Review 59.3: 411–431.

5. Sia Spiliopoulou Åkermark and Miriam Talah (2007). Samernas rätt till deltagande och samråd: Fysisk planering och infrastruktur. Report for Svenska Avdelningen av Internationella Juristkommissionen.

Media Sweden

In the news

Earlier this week the project appeared in one of the two local newspapers in Norrbotten (the northern most county in Sweden, where most mines are). Click here to see the article (in Swedish, there’s a link to a video on the site as well). Given the plans for new mines in the region (the mine in Laver, Älvsbyn, was mentioned), the journalist focused on whether or not mines lead to long-term communities or if labor is based on fly in-fly out.