Swedish bus strike may continue into weekend

The nationwide bus strike looks likely to be pushed into the weekend, as employers and staff have made no concrete headway in salary negotiations.

Swedish bus strike may continue into weekend

“We are trying to move forward the whole time, and I think this is the aim from both sides,” Peter Jeppson, CEO of Bus Employers (Bussarbetsgivarna), told the TT news agency.

The trade union Kommunal, representing the bus drivers, also said that the attitude had lightened up somewhat around the negotiating table, but added that there was no end in sight.

The strike has knocked out the entire bus network in Södertälje, an hour south of Stockholm, with extensive cancellations in Solna, north of the capital. In the inner city, the following bus lines were affected at 5pm on Thursday.

Bus routes:

2 Cancelled

3 Cancelled

43 Cancelled

44 Cancelled

53 Almost completely cancelled

55 Cancelled

59 Cancelled

66 Cancelled

69 Cancelled

74 Cancelled

76 Cancelled

96 Cancelled

For updated information on transport in Stockholm County, please visit the website.

Thursday marks the ninth day of the strike which has disrupted commutes across the country. Drivers have taken part in industrial action from Umeå in the north, to Jönköping in the south.

There is also strike action in Strängnäs, Halmstad, Västerås/Hallstahammar, and in Norrköping, where local traffic police said on Thursday that the E4 motorway was experiencing higher traffic than usual.

“There are more people taking the car than what you’d expect,” said Östergötland County police spokesman Torbjörn Lindqvist.

“It’s not impossible that the strike is the reason for it.”

The nearby Bråvalla Festival has sold 46,000 tickets. Representatives from the Liberal Party (Folkpartiet) youth wing are organizing alternative transport for the music-lovers between Norrköping city centre and the festival area – provoking the ire of the Kommunal union.

Trade union representatives told TT, however, that a similar bus service run by the festival organizers themselves could not be deemed as undermining the strike.

At stake in the protracted labour strike are wages – with the benchmark set at 6.8 percent increase over the next three years. Additionally, the drivers want the right not to have to reapply for their jobs if local authorities change the subcontractors manning public transport routes.

“The (benchmark) is one of the questions we are discussing,” Jeppson told TT.

“How we can combine the demands with that benchmark. When it comes to the wage increases that Kommunal wants, there is a problem. We want something in return if we are to agree to (the demands).”

TT/The Local/at

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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.