Shop strike averted by deal

A planned shopworkers' strike over Easter weekend has been averted after unions and employers agreed on a three-year pay deal.

The deal gives average wage increases of 12.6 percent over three years for 120,000 shopworkers and 30,000 warehouse employees.

The Commercial Employees Union (Handels) and the Swedish Trade Federation (Svensk Handel) had agreed on an identical agreement on Saturday. That deal was blocked by the Swedish Trade Federation’s parent organization, Confederation of Swedish Enterprise (Svenskt Näringsliv).

The new deal means that a strike called for the lead-up to Easter will not take place. Planned sympathy strikes by other unions have also been averted. The Swedish Trade Federation could face fines from the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise for ignoring its orders. Despite that, unions and employers said they were happy with the agreement.

“The deal gives shopworkers rises as big as those for people working in industry,” said Kenneth Bengtsson, chairman of the Swedish Trade Federation. He added that he was “extremely certain” that there would be no fine for going over the head of his parent organization.

Lars-Anders Häggström, chairman of the Commercial Employees Union, criticized the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise for causing “unnecessary turbulence”.

The Cooperation Committee of the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise condemned the deal, saying it had been reached “despite the fact that other sectors in the confederation considered the wage cost level in the agreement the Swedish Trade Federation wanted to make with the Commercial Employees Union last weekend was too high.”

In a statement released on Thursday evening, the committee said that its concerned remained, although it did not mention any fine or other sanction for the Swedish Trade Federation.