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PUBLIC SECTOR

Public sector strike called off after pay deal

A planned strike by Swedish public sector workers was called off on Sunday following a pay deal between employers and the unions.

Public sector strike called off after pay deal

Both sides agreed on Sunday to a deal brokered by mediators.

“The most important thing – we have now avoided a strike,” representatives for both sides told journalists on Sunday.

“A sound agreement which falls within budget,” according to the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions (SKL).

The new agreement extends over 37 months and can’t be revoked. The agreement was welcomed as having given “peace and calm in the public sector for an extended period of time”.

The dispute related to the size of salary increases, and whether they should be calculated in percent or in kronor terms.

The difference amounted to around a few hundred kronor per month. Unions also sought to remove so-called split shifts involving several hours of involuntary down time.

Nearly 9,000 employees in 100 municipalities had given notice to go on a strike which was due to begin on Monday.

Strike action would have had a major impact in several areas of public services such as hospitals and children’s daycares.

Parents in Stockholm and Norrköping, among other areas, had for example been warned to be prepared for sending their children to school with packed lunches.

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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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