March 23, 2009

Company town worries about Saab’s loss

The Swedish government's refusal to help automaker Saab could devastate the town of Trollhaven, where the company is the largest employer, residents said.

I don't think the government knows the situation in this town, how many people depend on Saab, said Therese Doeij, clerk in a Trollhattan photo shop, told The New York Times. To them it's just a factory. They don't see the people behind it.

About 4,000 of Trollhattan's 54,000 residents work for Saab and about 50,000 visitors each year visit the Saab Museum in town. The next largest employer is the local government, the Times said.

But Saab lost $343 million last year and owner General Motors Corp. has said it would sell the company by the end of the year. Swedish Enterprise Minister Maud Olofsson told the Times, The Swedish state is not prepared to own car factories.

She also said, we very disappointed in GM, which some view as having stripped Saab of its identity.

With GM's decision to back out, they wash their hands of Saab and drop it into the laps of Swedish taxpayers, Olofsson said.

Still, its loss has many residents worried. Saab is our identity, Trollhattan Mayor Gert-Inge Andersson said to the Times.