“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.
53 Almost completely cancelled
For updated information on transport in Stockholm County, please visit the SL.se 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).”