Last ditch bid to halt newspaper conflict

As many Swedish newspapers prepare for their first day of industrial action, mediators have made a last ditch bid to ward off a potential crisis.

Delegations from journalists’ union SJF and the Swedish Association of Newspaper Publishers (Tidningsutgivarna – TU) each spent the early hours of Monday morning poring over the mediators’ offer.

“The union intended to respond at around seven o’clock but there are some elements of the bid that are unclear, meaning that it not certain when we can reach a decision,” SJF spokeswoman Lotta Tillström told news agency TT.

With the parties repeatedly failing to reach a resolution, initial industrial measures implemented on August 17th have gradually escalated into a full-blown conflict.

The next stage of industrial action is set to begin at midday on Thursday, when SJF-affiliated journalists at almost all Swedish newspapers are to be forbidden from placing new material on the web or updating articles already published. They are also banned from handling advertisements.

Most editors TT spoke to hoped that a solution would be reached in time. They also expressed a belief that they would be able to cope with Thursday’s industrial action if necessary.

“We’re not going to try to get around anything. But we will see to it that our readers are affected as little as possible. We’ll see tomorrow what action we need to take,” said Dagens Nyheter’s editor Thorbjörn Larsson.

Dagens Industri editor Gunilla Herlitz said that the effect of the advertising ban would vary according to the number of unionized employees.

But permitting non-affiliated employees to carry out tasks covered by the ban is considered controversial. SJF says that it is forbidden, while TU claims that it is up to the individual employer to decide whether to utilize workers who are not members of a trade union.