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Railway strike: Next stop, Stockholm

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Railway strike: Next stop, Stockholm
File photo: Pontus Lundahl/TT
16:33 CEST+02:00
The railway strike in southern Sweden is set to hit Stockholm and cause midsummer madness if no agreement is reached, the Seko union announced on Tuesday.

The train strike began on June 2nd, leaving over 75,000 passengers stranded. Since then the conflict has cost 15 million kronor ($2.2 million) per week, increased vehicle traffic across the Öresund bridge by about 20 percent, and cost at least 30 train cafe workers their jobs.

Now the strike is set to hit Stockholm.

"Our negotiators have not had any progress so far, so we have had to extend our measures and take bigger action," Seko press contact Erik Sandberg told The Local.

The Seko union driving the strike invited the employers' organization Almega to new negotiations on Sunday, but was left unsatisfied by the suggestions they brought to the table.

Seko's two key demands are a limit on the number of temporary workers Veolia uses, and a requirement that one year's temporary employment automatically lead to a permanent position. 

IN PICTURES: Malmö passengers sound off about the train strike

"We have received suggestions from Almega and Veolia, but the offers were not serious and so they were turned down immediately," Sandberg said, adding that the union is still open for negotiations.

If the situation does not improve, hundreds of Stockholmers may have their midsummer plans derailed. From 3am on June 20th, Midsummer's Eve, commuter train traffic in Stockholm will also screech to a halt. 

David Wästberg, Almega's public relations officer, called Seko's actions "remarkable and frivolous". He added that negotiations were ongoing and it was drastic of Seko to resort so quickly to expanding the strike.

"We have invited them to new negotiations and they have said no. Obviously there is quite a gap between our viewpoints, otherwise we wouldn't have a strike. We'll wait and see if we can move on after today or if they'll slam that door, too."

The Seko union claims that the railway workers' employer, Veolia, fired 250 people only to rehire them under worse conditions. The employees were effectively demoted from full time positions and salaries to on-call employees paid by the hour. With the recent expansions of the strike there are now 1,260 railway workers affected employed by Veolia Transport Sverige AB, Krösatåg, and Stockholmståg.

The Local/TT/sr

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