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TRAFFIC

Swedish road safety ‘best in the world’: official

The number of deaths on Sweden's roads was at an all time low in 2010, according to new statistics.

Only 270 people lost their lives on Sweden’s roads last year meaning that Sweden is likely to have the lowest number of traffic fatalities per capita in the world.

Gunnar Malm, general director of The Swedish Transport Administration (Trafikverket) has described the development as fantastic

“The development is totally unique. Incredible! You would need to go back centuries to find a time with fewer road deaths,” he told the TT news agency.

“Sweden is still the best in the world when it comes to road safety.”

Malm maintains that the reduced numer of deaths is not down to a single policy, but instead the result of several steps that have been taken in recent years.

Partly, it is due to motorists reducing their speed and also due to roads being built more safely including the introduction of crash barriers.

Sweden’s nfrastructure minister Catharina Elmsäter-Svärd welcomed the lower traffic fatality figures.

“We’re on our way to reaching the long-term goal of zero road fatalities, which was regarded as utopian when it was launched,” she said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the number of fatalities in rail traffic has increased, reaching the highest figure in ten years.

Last year 109 people died in rail accidents. However, only one of those killed was a rail passenger. Thirteen people died at level crossings and there was also an increase in the number of suicides.

Preliminary figures show that 17 people were killed in road accidents over December 2010, one of the lowest figures on record for that month.

By comparison, there were 148 traffic fatalities in December 1970.

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TRAINS

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. 
 
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