Swedish truck drivers call off national strike

The Transport Union has ended the nationwide haulage strike set to paralyze Swedish trade, after truck drivers reached an agreement with employers following fractious wrangling about how they use temping agency staff.

Swedish truck drivers call off national strike

“This is a big victory for job security and for our members. We are very happy with the deal, which finally gives us the tools to clean up this industry,” Transport Union chairman Lars Lindgren told the TT news agency.

Earlier in the day, Lindgren admitted that talks had become so tense in the early hours of Wednesday morning that the negotiators ended up telling each other to go to hell.

The nationwide strike was then called, set for noon Wednesday.

The strike at 34 transport terminals affected four major haulage companies. But an hour after Swedish truck drivers began the midday strike, news came that a new deal had been struck only a few minutes after the strike began.

“I am immensely relieved that we’ve come to an agreement. The deal is in keeping with what the negotiators put forward yesterday and in line with the industry at large,” Peter Jeppsson, CEO of the employers organization (Biltrafikens Arbetsgivareförbund) told TT.

They had threatened to respond to the strike with a lockout by Thursday and warned that the strike risked slashing up to 80 percent of goods haulage across the country.

The key issue at stake for the drivers was how to regulate the use of temporary labour contracts, managed through temping agencies. Their demands met with resistance.

“It’s important for us as employers to decide if we want to employ people or if we want to fill short-term needs by hiring temporary staff,” said Jeppsson. “We need flexibility to meet our customers’ demands.”

TT/The Local/at

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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.