Paper mills end strike action after pay deal

A 10-day long strike by around 3,000 Swedish paper mill workers ended on Monday with a new collective agreement on pay, the Swedish Forest Industries Federation (Skogsindustrierna) has confirmed.

“The strike is over. We have reached an agreement,” federation spokesperson Lotta Larson told AFP.

She said the new collective agreement stretches over 22 months and provides industry workers with a 3.3 percent pay increase.

“The most important thing for us has been to reach an agreement which enables our companies to be competitive in international markets,” said federation CEO Marie S.Arwidson in a statement.

Aside from the general pay hike, the new agreement also provides for an extra boost to the pay of those on less than 21,300 kronor ($3,000) per month.

Some 3,000 paper mill workers from six different plants had been on strike in Sweden since April 16th, and the union had warned that 2,800 other workers in six more plants would join the strike late Monday if last-bid talks failed to secure a new labour agreement.

The Swedish Forest Industries Federation said at the weekend the strike had cost it more than 510 million kronor ($70 million dollars) so far, and that if the planned extension of the work stoppage went ahead it would lose around 100 million kronor per day.

“Everyone understands tat a strike is a failure for all parties. We will conduct a thorough evaluation of the consequences of this collective bargaining round,” Arwidson said.

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Train staff threaten wildcat strike in Skåne on Monday

Trains could be disrupted across Skåne in southern Sweden on Monday after the SEKO transport union threatened a wildcat strike over an attempt to remove a troublesome union official.

Train staff threaten wildcat strike in Skåne on Monday
Arriva, which operates the Pågatåg train network, faces a strike. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT
The union has set up a strike committee after Arriva, the Deutsche Bahn subsidiary which runs the Pågatågen regional trains, offered Ola Brunnström, the union's health and safety official, two years of salary if he took voluntary redundancy.  
“For us, what was the straw on the camel's back was the attack on the right to self-organisation, that what they are doing is actually breaking the law,” a member of the new committee told the Sydsvenskan newspaper. 
“Ola Brunnström is a chief health and safety official and he should be protected under the Trade Union Representatives Act.” 
Brunnström has denied the offer, but Arriva wants to push ahead nonetheless and is set to meet him, together with Seko representatives on Monday. 
According to Seko, the meeting between Brunnström and Arriva will centre on an  email he wrote to other Seko-affiliated staff on October 9th, when he wrote: “We are not afraid of the bosses, they should be afraid of us.” 
Jonas Pettersson, Seko's head of planning and communication, told Sydsvenskan that Arriva had been trying to silence a high profile union official with a long hisotry of pushing for better safety for the company's employees. 
Arriva would only tell Sydsvenskan that they had had a discussion with one of their employees. 
Brunnström has in recent months been a vocal participant in a struggle with the company over equipment to protect staff from being infected with coronavirus, over loo breaks, and also over Arriva's moves to unilaterally reduce employees hours and salary. 
Pettersson said Seko would do everything in its power to prevent Brunnström losing his job, but said the union could not support a wildcat strike and encouraged its members not to take part in it.