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Transport chaos threatens Midsummer

A public transport strike appears likely to kick off on Wednesday night after unions and state-transport heads failed to agree on workers' pay and conditions after three days of discussions.

Transport chaos threatens Midsummer

Workers are expected to go on strike after employers refused to increase their wages by 1,740 kronor ($270) over three years, according to the Dagens Nyheter newspaper (DN).

A further 1,400 employees are expected to strike from next Saturday if agreements cannot be reached.

The Kommunal union, which represents municipal and county employees, has threatened to halt bus traffic and commuter trains on Wednesday night in Stockholm, Södertälje, and Umeå in northern Sweden.

The red line on Stockholm’s underground network, which covers 36 stops, may also be affected.

If the strikes go ahead, thousands of Swedes will suffer setbacks to their plans for Midsommar Eve on Thursday, a day that marks the start of many Swedes’ long Midsummer weekend, with Friday a national public holiday.

There are even risks that Gothenburg and the Skåne region to the south will be hit by the strikes, but Stockholm would be hardest hit.

“This will have gigantic consequences,” regional transport network SL spokeswoman Lovisa Åbom told the TT news agency.

On a usual day in Stockholm, 770,000 people use the public transport services that may be affected by Wednesday’s potential strike.

Out in Gothenburg, a strike could dash the chances of many Swedes’ plans for getaway trips up along the coastline.

“Midsummer is one of our biggest holiday weekends. Travel is huge, especially up to Bohuslän. It’s already a challenge for us normally,” Västtrafik spokesperson Kristian Lans said.

When asked if people should in fact stay at home for the long weekend,

“That’s up to the individual,” he said.

“But you should be aware that this is an extraordinary situation that we’re unable to influence.”

TT/The Local/og

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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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