Swedish bus strike over after pay deal

The nationwide bus strike finally came to an end late Thursday after employer and union groups managed to reach an agreement on new pay and conditions.

Swedish bus strike over after pay deal

“We are very happy,” said Annelie Nordström at the Kommunal union.

The key issues for the union, aside from salary level, concerned working hours and that bus drivers sought a guarantee to avoid having to re-apply for their jobs when a new contractor takes over bus services.

Nordström is particularly pleased that Kommunal was able to push through all of their four key demands in the three-year contract.

“They are actually specified in the contracts. These include the transfer of staff to a new contractor and a far greater influence for members over working hours,” she said.

According to employers, the agreement stipulates wage increases in line with other other labour market sectors – 6.8 percent over three years.

“I am pleased that we can get transport rolling and that travellers no longer suffer,” Peter Jeppsson, CEO of Bus Employers (Bussarbetsgivarna), told the TT news agency.

He said that the wording of the contracts with regards to staff transfers means that there is an ambition to ensure that staff will continue employment.

“It’s not binding in the sense that everyone be transferred but we make a commitment to work towards that,” said Jeppsson.

Mattias Näsström, Traffic Operations Manager at ÖstgötaTrafiken, which includes the provision of tram services in Norrköping, expressed satisfaction at the deal.

“Now we can get going again and are in the process of running trams and buses.”

Norrköping had witnessed chaos on Thursday as visitors to the Bråvalla festival were having trouble getting to the festival site.

“In a few hours, I think that traffic should be back up and running properly,” Näsström said.

In Stockholm, regional transport authority SL said that services should be rolling as normal on Friday morning.

Minister of Employment Hillevi Engström expressed satisfaction that the nine day conflict had been brought to a conclusion, while stressing that it was a matter between the parties.

“It’s also a testament that the Swedish model works,” Engström said.

TT/The Local/pvs

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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.