Scab row as students disrupt bus strike

Stockholm bus traffic was at a standstill Wednesday as drivers and other staff launched a major strike at midnight, but a group of Conservative youths disrupted the action by replacing a bus route between two of the city’s major hospitals.

Scab row as students disrupt bus strike

The strike affects nearly all bus routes in central Stockholm as well as several suburbs – Södertälje, Solna, Sundbyberg, and Sollentuna. It also includes the northern Swedish city of Umeå.

A total of 1,400 bus drivers walked out and roughly 100,000 commuters are affected, according to Thomas Silvander, a spokesman for Stockholm regional transport operator SL.

Silvander told news agency TT that SL was unable to offer alternative transport to replace the cancelled buses and instead advised commuters to carpool or cycle.

However, the student association Fria Moderata studentförbundet (FMS) rented two minibuses to ferry commuters between the Södersjukhuset hospital in the south of central Stockholm and the Karolinska University Hospital in the north, a route usually covered by the number three bus.

In a press statement, FMS explained their action as a compensation for “the Kommunal union’s careless unwillingness to compromise”.

Hugo Selling, president of Högerjuristerna, one of the student associations within FMS, said it is also a statement against the union’s “exceptional position in the wage negotiation process”.

“We will not get the care we need because nurses and doctors will not be able to make it into work,” Selling told TT.

“I as a consumer and commuter in Stockholm must be able to count on being able to get to my job,” he insisted.

Lenita Granlund of Kommunal was upset by the Conservative youths’ actions.

“It is completely disrespectful and unacceptable,” she said.

Granlund added that the students should have respect for bus drivers “as they know what work conditions they have”.

Ivo Tomkovic, a bus driver and workplace ombudsman in Stockholm, told TT that there is widespread dissatisfaction among bus drivers but said staff and employers were “quite far apart” in the negotiations.

On Wednesday, union reps wore red jackets with the slogan “We’ll take the fight”. Most workers are reportedly prepared to strike for the long haul, if necessary.

Granlund did not want to say whether the Conservative students’ action was a case of scabbing, but added: “We will look further into this”.

TT/The Local/nr Follow The Local on Twitter

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


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.