Pay deal averts Midsummer train chaos

Midsummer revellers can breathe a sigh of relief after employers and unions agreed a new pay deal and averted a train strike that promised to wreak havoc over the holiday weekend.

Pay deal averts Midsummer train chaos

“We were very anxious to avoid a conflict. It would have caused incredible problems for the general public, who would have found it difficult to get to work and Midsummer celebrations,” said Jonas Milton of the Almega employer association.

The agreement signed between Almega and the Seko union will run from April 1st 2013-March 31st 2016 and will ensure salaries rise by 6.8 percent over the period.

The deal also includes an agreement on a new formulation concerning parental leave, including compensation for up to six 30-day periods.

Two joint working groups will also be formed, with one set to review issues concerning threats, violence and working alone. The other will work to improve the integration of the agreement into various areas of operations.

Seko president Janne Ruden told the TT news agency that strike action had looked likely as negotiations remained deadlocked.

“It was only during the afternoon that it began to ease,” he said.

Ruden expressed particular satisfaction that the deal can be revoked annually and that a solution has been reached for Seko members working with the Götalandståg rail operator.

“We are very proud that we Seko managed to… protect our members from deteriorating employment conditions when changing train operator,” he said in a statement.

“Almega has now taken responsibility for the Swedish model, based on strong collective agreements.”

The three-year agreement includes salary increases of 2.7 percent, 1.8 percent and 2.3 percent respectively.

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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.