Shop workers face strike call

Shopaholics across Sweden moved one step closer to enforced cold turkey on Monday as the Commercial Employees Union (Handels) vowed to issue a strike call at 4pm.

The union’s deal with the Swedish Trade Federation (Svensk Handel) to give pay rises of between 11 and 13 percent was blocked on Sunday by the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise (Svenskt Näringsliv). Without a deal, industrial action could be inevitable.

A potential strike could have effects beyond the retail industry: the board of the Commercial Employees Union has asked union confederation LO to consider secondary action, meaning workers in other sectors could go on strike in support of the shopworkers.

The union has given the employers’ organization until 1pm on Monday to sign an agreement.

The Swedish Trade Federation said it was expecting a strike call this afternoon.

“Our board is called to a metting at 4.15pm, and our delegation will meet at 6pm,” said spokeswoman Margareta Ternell.

A strike called on Monday would mean action taking place by Easter weekend.

Sture Nordh, chairman of the Swedish Confederation for Professional Employees, said he was not surprised by the planned strike call, saying that the negotiations were “much more centralized than most of us thought.”

“The interesting thing, of course, is that the Confederation of Swedish Industry is always arguing that negotiations should take place on a sector by sector basis, that they should be local and that they should adapt to the situation in different businesses. But behind the scenes there’s strict coordination,” he said.

Labour market minister Sven Otto Littorin said he would not comment on ongoing negotiations.