• Sweden's news in English
 
app_header_v3

SAS 'ultimatum' angers Swedish unions

20 Nov 2012, 17:23

Published: 20 Nov 2012 17:23 GMT+01:00

“As an SAS stakeholder, the Swedish state has pulled the rug from under the Swedish model despite the government saying it is in favour of it,” Unionen spokeswoman Louise Gerdemo Holmgren told The Local.

The trade union represents SAS's 600 Swedish cabin crew members and an additional 1,400 ground staff. Its members reacted angrily last week when SAS issued new working conditions without first calling its employees to the negotiating table.

“It’s the equivalent of us going on strike without talking to the employers first - it’s unfathomable,” said Gerdemo Holmgren.

"Our members are loyal and want to keep flying but there is a lot of anger."

Union representatives flew down to Copenhagen a few days later for crisis talks. The @Unionen Twitter account published a photograph of a bare office space and said some of their representatives had slept on the floor.

One online supporter said the situation resembled military tactics used to fatigue an opponent.

Other observers have reacted to the short space of time that the unions have had to respond.

“After all, they did agree, and both parties are taking responsibility, yet at the same time one can question negotiations that take place under such time pressure,” labour market historian Sofia Murhem at Uppsala University told The Local.

She said the negotiations were unusual but pointed out that the Swedish model had evolved over time.

“In the fifties and sixties, unprofitable companies were supposed to go bust. Then the workforce could relocate either to other companies or to other industries. It was also meant to regulate quality on the market,” she said.

“Union economists pioneered that model despite some Social Democrats deeming it controversial."

She said there were other "model-breaking" deals struck in the recent past.

In 2009, employers and the metal union IF Metall, then headed by current Social Democrat leader Stefan Löfven, struck a bargain to reduce costs. Instead of lowering salaries, employees agreed to scale back their working hours while the financial climate recovered.

Story continues below…

“That kind of compromise from both parties more accurately defines the Swedish model,” Murhem told The Local.

“Consensus was also meant to increase Swedish companies’ competitive edge as it provided long-term stability for investors.”

Ann Törnkvist

Follow Ann on Twitter here

Your comments about this article

17:45 November 20, 2012 by Beavis
so they would rather have their failed Swedish union model and everyone losing their jobs..morons..were talking about changing or going out of business. The question they should be asking instead is why are senior management not taking the hefty 70% pay cut they should be taking and when are they going to fix their 1980s pricing model
17:47 November 20, 2012 by skogsbo
listening to the unions is the last thing SAS should do to save itself. Cut wages and pensions by 10%, get rid of 10% of middle managers EVERY month until the books are balancing, award all staff a profit dividend annually, if the company survives. Some incompetent workers need the boot, business isn't charity and talking isn't going to save SAS, only severe action.
22:35 November 20, 2012 by Abe L
It must come as a shock to unions when they are hit in the face with reality and they have to realise there is no room for either negotiation or consensus. When a company is on the verge of bankruptcy the negotiations are a one-way process.

I sincerely wish unions would get prohibited by law.
21:08 November 24, 2012 by james_g
Jesus H Christ! Beavis, skogsbo & Abe have obviously been listening to the EU policy wonks who are busily insisting that the whole continent goes deeper into recession. Austerity, austerity, austerity... and presumably with the unions out of the way employers could REALLY get down to exploiting the proletariat for all they're worth - and get all that inconvenient Health & Safety legislation repealed too! Not that I have any sympathy for Union fat cat bosses sitting on enormous salaries and perks either... and obviously SAS needs serious changes if it is to have any serious chance of surviving - but they DO have to be negotiated (and it sounds like a lost cause anyway!) Finally (for the moment) no business concern would stand much chance of being successful except on the backs of its employees - so they deserve a fair share!
Today's headlines
Nationalists suspend aide after Russia propaganda claim
The suspended aide is a political secretary to SD member of parliament Kent Ekeroth. Photo: Claudio Bresciani/TT

His suspension comes only days after another of the party's political secretaries resigned amid controversy over a property deal in Russia.

Presented by Lernia
Top 7 tips to help you learn Swedish
Photo: Lernia

Struggling to learn Swedish? There are a few ways to make it easier. Here are seven tips from the experts.

Here's how much Sweden's highest-earning authors make
It was a good year for the likes of Jonas Jonasson (left) and Camilla Läckberg (right). Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT & Henrik Montgomery/TT

From Nordic Noir to a hundred-year-old man (and one called Ove), Sweden's authors had a good year in 2015.

Sweden named world's sixth most competitive country
The good news also came with some caveats. Photo: Izabelle Nordfjell/TT

The country moved up three places in the top ten of the latest edition of the World Economic Forum's Global Competitiveness Index.

The Swedish celebs you really should not google
'Oh no, don't tell me I just clicked on THAT link.' Photo: Björn Larsson Rosvall/TT

These are the world's most dangerous viral Swedish celebrities, according to a new report.

Furious elk mum attacks Swede, breaks his arm
You talkin' to me? Photo: Mikael Fritzon/TT

It came back and attacked him not once, but twice.

Report: Stockholm is at risk of a housing bubble
Apartments in Stockholm. Photo: Tomas Oneborg/SvD/TT

Stockholmers are the third most likely to experience a housing bubble in their city, according to an international ranking.

The Local List
Reverse culture shock: the troubles of leaving Sweden
Does it get more Swedish than this? Photo: Emelie Asplund/imagebank.sweden.se

Why is that stranger talking to me in the elevator?!

Police close Facebook thread after call for help derails
A file photo of police cars on Gotland not related to the article. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

The Gotland Police Facebook post asking the public for information about an unprovoked attack on two boys had to be closed because the comments section spiraled out of control.

US election
What Americans in Sweden think of Trump and Clinton
The Local spoke to Americans in Sweden after the first US presidential debate. Photo: David Goldman/AP/TT

The Local spoke to four US voters based in Sweden about who they are planning on voting for in the November election, and it looks like it's complicated.

Sponsored Article
Expat finances in Sweden: the Common Reporting Standard
National
Aliens' sex lives? Why Swedes want Nasa to send a condom into space
Sponsored Article
Let's Talk: a personal Swedish language tutor in your pocket
Analysis & Opinion
'If Sweden really wants startups, drop the red tape on migration'
Gallery
Property of the week: Gotland
Blog updates

27 September

Cutting your nose …. (The Diplomatic Dispatch) »

"Last week, Jeremy Browne, the Special Representative for the City of London, visited Sweden. Jeremy was…" READ »

 

7 September

Svensk or svenska? (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hejsan! My inbox is full of questions :-). Here’s one about when to use “svensk” and…" READ »

 
 
 
Sponsored Article
‘I view the world in a different way now’
National
Trump an 'embarrassment' Springsteen tells Sweden
Sponsored Article
Retiring abroad: ensuring your health is covered
Gallery
People-watching: September 23rd-25th
Politics
Russian Sweden Democrat aide resigns over suspect deal
National
Muslim teacher leaves job after not shaking male colleague's hand
Sponsored Article
'Creating a sense of home': Collective living in Stockholm
Travel
Why we adore autumn in Sweden
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
Gallery
People-watching: September 21st
National
Stockholmers hunt killer badger after attack on neighbourhood hipster cat
Sponsored Article
Gran Canaria: 'So much more than beaches'
The Local Voices
Why this Russian developer is committed to helping refugees - with tech
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
National
Six key points in Sweden's budget plan
The Local Voices
How a Swedish name finally made recruiters notice this Iranian's CV
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Gallery
Property of the week: Luleå
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
Gallery
People-watching: September 16th-18th
Sponsored Article
Retiring abroad: ensuring your health is covered
Culture
Why Swedish TV has given these kids' trucks a sex swap
Sponsored Article
'There was no future for me in Turkey'
National
TIMELINE: Everything you need to know about the Julian Assange case
Sponsored Article
7 reasons you should join Sweden’s ’a-kassa’
Gallery
People-watching: September 14th
Sponsored Article
‘Extremism can't be defeated on the battlefield alone’
Politics
Why Sweden is putting troops on holiday dream island Gotland
The Local Voices
'What I mean when I say: I came here to blow myself up'
Society
VIDEO: Are Swedes that unfriendly?
Features
INTERVIEW: How Arthur the jungle dog opened hearts and minds
Gallery
Property of the week: Smögen, Västra Götaland
Society
Sweden's ancient forest tongue Elfdalian fights for survival
National
Where Sweden's foreigners are from
The Local Voices
'Whenever I apply for jobs I’m treated like an unwanted stranger'
The Local Voices
Is Swedish bosses' ignorance keeping refugees out of jobs?
2,961
jobs available