Strike could lead to chaos for Swedish shoppers

Furniture giant Ikea and supermarket chain ICA face staff walkouts next month if trade unionists and employers' organizations don't reach an agreement.

Some 1,500 members of the HTF union have been notified of strikes from 9th May, with Ikea and ICA among the companies affected. HTF says that if an agreement is not reached with the Swedish Trade Federation by 14th May it will call strikes at other workplaces.

All 50,000 shopworkers belonging to HTF will be taken out on strike on 21st May if the two sides have not made a deal, in a move that would cause widespread chaos.

The reason for the strike call is HTF’s dissatisfaction with a wage offer from the Swedish Trade Federation. HTF spokesman Tommy Mases said the minimum wage increases are too small and the average wages were also too low.

“We’re not getting enough real-term loan guarantees.”

HTF wants wages to be increased by the same amounts in cash terms as unions representing heavy industry workers agreed on recently. In percentage terms that would be more than the 10.2 percent in the industry agreement.

The Swedish Trade Federation’s chief negotiator Bo Cederlöf called the strike notice “a strange thing to do”.

“We have decided to continue meeting mediators,” he said.

Both the Swedish trade Federation and HTF rejected the most recent proposal by mediators, which according to Cederlöf was around the same level as the 10.2 percent over 3 years agreed by industrial unions.

“We’re not that far from each other,” Cederlöf said.

Cederlöf’s organization has recently agreed to a 13 percent pay rise over three years for members of the Union of Commercial Employees. But Cederlöf said that the current negotiations were about “a completely different agreement with completely different wage situations.”