Lawsuit looms for garbage strikers

Lawsuit looms for garbage strikers
Garbage workers currently on a wildcat strike in Stockholm have been threatened with a lawsuit by their employers.

“In all likelihood, those who are striking will be sued in the Labour Court by the end of the day,” said Hans-Göran Grännby, head of the Liselotte Lööf AB (LLAB) waste management company, to the TT news agency.

The strike, which entered its fourth day on Monday, hasn’t yet had a noticeable effect in the Swedish capital.

But by midweek, Stockholmers’ waste is expected to start piling up.

“By Wednesday, the effects will be noticeable,” said Grännby, who hopes that the conflict will be settled by then.

In the mean time, he advised Stockholm residents to tie their trash bags tightly and place them beside rubbish bins if they are full.

In addition, larger containers for household refuse will be placed near recycling centres.

The striking garbage workers are protesting against an agreement between LLAB and the city of Stockholm which calls for the workers to receive a fixed monthly salary.

They say the new contract deviates from a collective labour agreement which stipulates that garbage haulers be paid according to a points-system based on how much garbage they collect.

The change will result in a substantial drop in pay, according to the striking workers.

They are demanding that the compensation system in the current collective wage agreement remain in place, that the points-system be retained, and that limits be place on weekly working hours, as well as for a new list of places from where garbage is collected.

Grännby admits that the new agreement will result in slightly lower pay for the garbage workers.

“And that in connection with them getting a bit more to do is surely what is creating the discontent,” he said.

Today, the haulers work around 30 hours a week, whereas LLAB wants them to work 40 hours a week.

According to Grännby, having fixed salaries will provide workers with a monthly wages of 27,000 to 29,000 kronor ($3,300 to $3,600), well over the industry average of 23,000 kronor per month.

The striking workers aren’t surprised they’re being taken to court.

“We understood that this would happen today or tomorrow. That’s the downside of this,” said Erik Axelsson, one of the striking garbage haulers.

Residents from throughout the Stockholm municipality, as well as the nearby suburb of Nacka, have been affected by the strike.

The most tangible effects, however, are expected to be felt in central Stockholm.

“There isn’t much space there. In the suburbs there are more options for putting out containers,” said Axelsson, adding that restaurants will likely be the hardest hit by a lack of waste pickup.

In addition to LLAB, the strike also includes garbage haulers from waste management companies Resta, Hellstens, and Ragnsells.

Göran Bergander, CEO for Ragnsells’s Swedish operations, confirmed his company is also considering joining a lawsuit against the striking workers.

“This is an unlawful strike,” he told TT.

According to him, there have also been threats against workers not wishing to join their striking colleagues.

“There are several who didn’t dare not to strike,” Bergander claimed.