In remembrance

The International Council of Swedish Industry (NIR) mourns Mr. Erik Belfrage, Chairman of the Board (2005-2020), Board Member (1997-2020) and Dear Friend.

NIR Chairman Erik Belfrage

 Mr. Erik Belfrage lost his life to covid-19 on 18 April, 2020. Any attempt to capture Erik’s life in words seems futile, for there would certainly be as many words as the number of people he met during his life. A myriad of meetings with people on all continents. The International Council of Swedish Industry all too soon lost its highly esteemed Chairman of the Board and Sweden lost a tireless advocate for internationalism, free trade and the value of knowledge and dialogue. Erik did not tire. Always equally curious, open, tolerant, positive and energetic. He was alive. As sharp as able and was fully engaged in chartering the way forward into the next decade. In August, Erik would hand over to his successor as Chairman of the Board in conjunction with the festivities of the 60th anniversary of the International Council of Swedish Industry, gathering members, partners and friends.

Erik had a formidable ability to meet people, he saw people and he was a good listener. Thus, he meant a lot to many. As man and as mentor. To us at NIR, and in many other contexts. In Sweden and abroad, a true citizen of the world. We will miss our long-standing Chairman for a long time to come, but we will take his legacy of economic diplomacy into the future, as well as his calling to act as a bridgehead between private and public sector, between north and south, east and west, sometimes beyond conventions .

Erik Belfrage was a globetrotter, a diplomat, a nestor within the Swedish business community, Swedish and French at heart, and if one dared to choose two words to honor Erik they would be in French: esprit (spirituality, wit, resourcefulness) and savoir-vivre (living knowledge, world experience).

“I learned that every mortal will taste death. But only some will taste life.”
Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī, 13th-century Persian poet

A life well lived. We will always remember you, Erik Belfrage

On behalf of NIR, Christine Bäckström, CEO

Within the private sector, we have always been able to build on the fact that we all speak the same language. We have the same desire to develop our enterprises. The private sector has an ability to spearhead dialogue and build relations across bor­ders, and to find practical solutions. Business needs stability to flourish. More than stability – it needs equality. Free trade should be based on equal opportunities and free choices of who you want to trade with. Free movement of people, goods and financial transactions.



lack of enabling environment for social dialogue at the workplace level, despite the provision of legislative acts that protect and promote workplace cooperation is a reoccuring issue  in Kenya. To implement good policy there must be a fertil ground.

Therefore SWP developed the UP!  project. Together with Swedish companies as an entry point, and with unions i South africa and Kenya. 

In Kenya SWP created the SWP UP! Programme targeting skills development of the union Shop Stewards from 18 companies in the Automotive sector in Kenya during 2021. As a result, the Stewards were able to use their skills to build trust and cooperation with management in new ways to avoid conflicts. 

A second cohort of training, in close cooperation with union AUKMW, takes place in 2022.

The training allows shop stewards to step out of their daily routines and understand their role and the purpose of their union, understand the labour market context, the laws that regulate relationships and the business itself. But on a human level, many shop stewards also highlighted that they feel respected as human beings, and that they have developed the skills to engage with supervisors and management and experience respect in professional relations. The experiences had deeply impressed them and helped to project the vision of dialogue and mutual respect and their own potential as a means to change workplaces.

The intervention of the SWP programme had a direct effect at the workplaces, where shop stewards listed several cases where they had managed to intervene and secure results in dialogue with management, avert crises or find solutions based on opportunities and the communication skills obtained during the SWP training. For the Amalgamated Metal Workers Unions in Kenya, the shop stewards pointed to how the training had enabled them to design their own strategies at the workplace in relation to supervisors and staff, and to achieve many concrete results.

Based on this shop steward upskilling, I feel confident that as a union we now have change ambassadors that will grow the industry, protect, and promote decent work principles for both the employer and the employees represented. And that disputes will be dealt with at the workplace level by though consultative dialogue.

Rose Omamo

General Secretary
Amalgamated Union of Kenya Metal Workers