When the company Keolis takes over bus traffic in Jönköping there will be some changes in the rules. Such as: the employees may speak to each other during their breaks, but only in Swedish.

Diskrimineringsombudsmannen (the Equality Ombudsman) is critical to this particular rule, but the local union chairman thinks it’s just fine. “If two people from a foreign country speak loudly to each other in their language they show no respect.

They are louder than the rest of us, that’s just a fact,” says Thor Tärnbring from the Kommunals trade union. In fact, the bus drivers (all of whom get to keep their jobs when Keolis takes over) must sign a contract promising not to speak anything but Swedish!

“That’s a rule we have to create harmony and solidarity,” says Helena Reinhagen, communication officer at Keolis. The rule is in effect during lunch and other shorter breaks.

Secretary of press at Equality Ombudsman, Eva Rosengren is critical however:

“During breaks when one is supposed to relax, you can’t very well forbid people to speak their native language,” she says. But Tärnbring doesn’t agree at all: “We have such a small canteen,” he says. “And we want a society where we can all be Swedes, old Swedes and new Swedes in one family.”

For more info on the company, see Busslink. Keolis is not - no surprise there! - a Swedish owned company, its headquarter is in France but the company works in public transportation all over Europe and in the U.S.. Keolis Nordic