Axfood slams employers’ organization for blocking wage deal

Axfood, which owns supermarket chains Willys and Hemköp, has criticized the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise (Svenskt Näringsliv) for blocking an agreement between the Swedish Trade Federation (Svensk Handel) and the Commercial Employees Union (Handels).

The move will only serve to damage the credibility of the current round of wage negotiations, according to Axfood.

A planned Easter strike would hit both Willys and Hemköp hard, as both main warehouses are targeted for industrial action. The strike was called on Monday in reaction to the unexpected intervention of the employers’ organization.

“It’s an expensive agreement but we have accepted it. Strange that the Swedish Trade Federation is not allowed to make its own decision while the Commercial Employees Union is,” said Cecilia Giertta, a spokeswoman for Axfood.

The Swedish Trade Federation could choose to incur a fine by simply ignoring the wishes of its umbrella organization. Asked whether Axfood would prefer such a solution as a means of avoiding a conflict, Giertta replied:

“We don’t want a conflict.”

Gert Karnberg, CEO of hardware chain Clas Ohlson, is convinced that the strike will be averted in time.

But how can he be so certain?

“I have been involved in lots of wage negotiations,” he told news agency TT.