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UNION

Swedes face toilet paper shortage in wake of strike threat

The threat of a toilet paper shortage looming large over Sweden on Wednesday after a labour union warned it would block deliveries from several Swedish toilet paper factories in a show of solidarity with another union group negotiating for higher pay.

“We’re going to block goods from leaving factories in Lilla Edet, Marestad, Pauliström, and Nyboholm,” Matts Jutterström of the Pappers labour union told the labour trade publication Dagens Arbete.

The action, which is set to go in effect on April 23rd, could wipe out toilet paper and paper towel supplies in stores across Sweden.

Pappers’ threat to stop toilet paper deliveries is meant as a show of support for protracted wage negotiations between the Commercial Employees’ Union (Handels) and the Svensk Handel retail employers association.

The two parties have failed to come to an agreement about higher wages, with Handels warning in late March that around 4,700 workers would go on strike on Friday, April 13th if no wage agreement is struck.

The stores likely to be affected by the Handels strike include Bauhaus, Ikea, Lindex, Rusta, Willys, Ica, Clas Ohlson, among others.

In addition to Pappers, the construction workers union Byggnads also announced on Wednesday its members would strike on April 20th in a show of solidarity with the Handels workers.

“It’s obvious that we as construction workers must support our wives, girlfriends, daughters and friends in their fight for equal pay,” Byggnads negotiating representative Torbjörn Johansson said in a statement.

A mediator has been called in to help get negotiations between the commercial employees union and the retail employers association back on track.

While the union has demanded a 4.5 percent pay raise, Svensk Handel has only offered a 2.6 percent hike in pay.

TT/The Local/dl

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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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