Builders’ union calls strike

The Swedish Building Workers Union (Byggnads) has called a strike for April 18th. The strike is expected to affect 46 workplaces around the country.

Late on Wednesday evening, the union announced its intention to begin industrial action. Wage negotiations between the union and the Swedish Construction Federation (Sveriges Byggindustrier) had come to a standstill earlier in the day.

“We are calling out just under 1,000 people in an initial phase in order to put some pressure on the negotiations. We don’t feel that we are getting anywhere with our discussions,” union chairman Hans Tilly told news agency TT.

According to the union, there are three issues that have caused the negotiations to stall: a demand for shorter working hours, an increase in the basic wage and an extension of negotiation rights.

“Now we hope we can get the negotiations under way as soon as possible,” said Hans Tilly.

The previous agreements, which cover 70,000 people in the construction sector, expired on Saturday.

Bo Antoni, head of the Swedish Construction Federation, says that strikes are an outdated weapon in labour conflicts.

“It is extremely strange to not even begin negotiating before calling a strike. It was not until last Thursday that we even had any idea what they wanted.

“Since then they have progressively increased their demands,” he said.

Antoni welcomes the fact the the National Mediation Office (Medlingsinstitutet) has been called in to help settle the dispute.

“It is impossible to enter into an agreement based on the papers that the Building Workers’ Union has presented. It will be good to have mediators who can come in and create a foundation on which it is possible to agree,” he said.