Bus strike set to spread

Bus strike set to spread
A strike by bus drivers is set to spread beyond central Stockholm to other parts of the country, after employers and unions failed to reach agreement. Drivers on the capital's bus network will walk out again at midnight on Thursday, with other bus companies - including airport bus services - facing strikes nationwide later in the month.

Municipal workers union Kommunal, which represents bus drivers, said on Tuesday that all buses in central Stockholm would be taken out of service on Thursday. Services in the suburbs are currently not expected to be hit by the strike.

If not resolution is found, Kommunal will extend the strike to bus companies Flygbussarna, Swebus Express and Säfflebussarna on July 18th. The strike on Flygbussarna, the country’s main operator of airport shuttles, will hit thousands of tourists and Swedish holidaymakers. However, the union has exempted services to Stockholm Skavsta Airport from the strike. Chartered services will also run as normal.

Passengers in Västerbotten county, northern Sweden, face more imminent disruption, with drivers working for Swebus and Veolia due to walk out at midnight on Wednesday. Drivers in Skåne working for Swebus, Arriva, Veolia Transport Sverige and Bergkvarbuss go on strike on July 15th.

“This is not a situation we wanted. Our aim is naturally to get an agreement. Our demand is that the privately employed bus drivers get the same conditions as those employed by municipalities,” said Håkan Pettersson, second deputy chairman of Kommunal.

Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday afternoon, he commented on talks with employers’ representatives, which broke down at midnight on Monday:

“We went over and over things and turned all possible screws in their offer, but at midnight we had no option but to call it off.”

Peter Jeppsson at employers’ organization Bussarbetsgivarna was critical of the strike:

“I am asking myself how much damage they are prepared to do. These are services that people use a lot, and this is causing big problems.”