Pilot strike grounds Swedish flights

Pilots working for four regional Swedish airlines went out on strike early Monday, affecting a large number of domestic flights with the threat of a broader strike affecting international and charter flights on Wednesday.

Pilot strike grounds Swedish flights

The four companies which are affected are Avia Express, Avitrans Nordic, Golden Air and Svenska Direktflyg and the strike is set to continue until June 9th if the parties are unable to reach agreement.

The Swedish Airline Pilots Association (Svensk Pilotförening – SPF) rejected the mediators’ offer on Friday and a final attempt to resolve the conflict failed on Sunday.

“SPF demands for an agreement which meets the basic security needs of Swedish pilots has not been met by the mediator’s offer,” said association chairperson Gunnar Mandahl in a SPF statement on Sunday evening.

“It’s too late to stop the strike now. There are such complex and difficult issues to consider so an agreement will be made by tomorrow at the earliest,” Mandahl said.

It is not yet clear how many flights that are affected and if an agreement is not reached then the strike action will be extended to all of the association’s 2,000 members on Wednesday, affecting foreign and charter travel.

“It will affect SAS, Norwegian and charter travel with Fritidsresor and Apollo from 5am to 1pm on Wednesday,” Mandahl told The Local on Monday.

Airports across Sweden are currently effected by the strike.

“All our airports are affected to some degree, with the biggest impact felt in Bromma and Ronneby, which have the greatest number of departures,” said Anders Broad Sell, spokesman for Swedavia which owns and operates 14 of the country’s major airports.

“Furthermore all the minor airports are affected, for example those owned by local municipalities,” he said.

At the heart of the conflict is the vexing question of the airlines’ right to hire temporary agency workers. Employers have called for changes in existing collective agreements, with some negative impact for existing employees, the union said.

“The offer cuts pilot pay by 15-20 percent and at the same time increases working hours from 40 to 47.5 hours a week,” SPF wrote in its statement.

Avia Express has sacked all of its 80 pilots from July 17th and would like to hire external pilots.

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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.