Unions expand bus strike across Sweden

The bus driver strike affecting transport in Stockholm and Umeå has been expanded to other cities across Sweden on Monday with an agreement between unions and employers still some way off.

Unions expand bus strike across Sweden

“This is irresponsible of (union) Kommunal,” said Peter Jeppsson, CEO of the Swedish Bus and Coach Employers’ Association (Bussarbetsgivarna), to the Aftonbladet daily.

“We received an offer from the mediators that we didn’t think was perfect, but we extended ourselves and accepted it. Kommunal turned it down and have a significant responsibility when travellers are affected,” he added.

The new strike notice on Monday affects bus drivers in Norrköping, Strängnäs, Halmstad, Västerås and Hallstahammar as well as engineering and service staff in Gävle and Östersund.

The expanded strike means that a total of 1,400 staff were involved as of midnight on Sunday.

The initial strike notice was called on June 19th, affecting staff in Stockholm, Södertälje and Umeå.

Trade unions are demanding that scheduling is reviewed to prevent the current situation of up to 13-hour days with few breaks.

Further demands include a salary increase of 1,760 kronor ($263) per month over three years and an employment guarantee when a new operator takes over bus services.

Employers and unions now have a week to reach a deal or face the prospect of a further expansion of the strike on Saturday June 29th that will affect, among other services, airport coaches.

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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.