Journalists’ union launches overtime ban

Sweden's main journalists' union has initiated an overtime ban for its members at 70 daily newspapers.

The Swedish Union of Journalists’ (Svenska Journalistförbundet – SJF) industrial action began at 3.15pm on Friday after the union turned down a final offer by mediators on Friday in its protracted conflict with the Swedish Newspaper Publishers’ Association (Tidningsutgivarna – TU). Around 2,200 journalists are affected by the first stage of the dispute.

The action comes after negotiations between SJF and TU broke down in mid-June.

Under the terms of the ban, no journalist will be permitted to work more than 40 hours a week or more than 8 hours per day.

“I am sorry that it has come to this,” said SJF chairwoman Agneta Lindblom Hultén.

“The issues we have are not that hard to resolve. An overtime blockade has broken out and the ball is now in the employers’ court. We are here and we want to find a solution if they’re ready to talk,” she added.

Unless the issue is resolved quickly, the SJF promises an escalation of the conflict at the beginning of next week – ten newspapers are to be barred from taking in any material not produced in-house, including freelance texts and news agency material.

If no agreement is reached by August 31st, the action will spread to Stockholm-based papers including Aftonbladet, Expressen, Dagens Nyheter and Svenska Dagbladet.

One of the main stumbling blocks preventing a resolution has been the SJF’s demand for a minimum wage of 25,000 kronor for journalists with at least fifteen years’ work experience.

According to TU’s negotiating chief Björn Svensson, however, the agreement rejected by the SJF already provides solutions to the contested issues.

“There are wage commitments for older workers, improved security for part-time employees and better pay for night-time work.

“In total the agreement represented a 10.2 percent increase over three years, which is the same level at which the SJF signed agreements with other employers,” he said.