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Swedes' Easter holiday saved as strike called off

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Swedes' Easter holiday saved as strike called off
A strike threatening to hit Swedish holidayers has been called off. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/SCANPIX
16:03 CEST+02:00
Tens of thousands of Swedes hoping to spend their Easter weekend in Helsinki can rest easily again, as a sympathy strike threatening to hit all passenger traffic between Sweden and Finland was called off late on Wednesday afternoon.

Finnish sea workers' unions 'Sjömansunionen' and 'Maskinbefälsförbundet' have been embroiled in a two-week conflict with state-owned ice breaker company Arctia Shipping over a new collective agreement.

But the unions' threat to call a sympathy strike on Maundy Thursday, meaning all ferries and freight ships sailing under the Finnish flag would remain in port in Finland, was called off after the disputing parties reached an agreement on Wednesday afternoon, reported Finnish news agency FNB.

The routes between Sweden and Finland are popular with travellers from both nations and have a reputation for attracting Swedes and tourists who like partying and can enjoy tax-free alcohol for some of the crossing.

Five of cruise operator Viking Line's ships would have been hit by the potential walkout – Amorella, Viking Grace, Mariella, Gabriella and Rosella – affecting 87,000 travellers.

“It is incredibly unfortunate as we're not even one of the parties involved in the conflict,” Viking Line spokeswoman Helena Kneck told Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet earlier on Wednesday.

“Easter is one of the year's most heavily trafficked mini holiday periods,” said Kneck.

Viking Line ferry M/S Viking Cinderella and M/S Viking XPRS between Helsinki and Tallinn would sail as normal, said the company in a press release and added customers would be entitled to refunds in the event of a strike.

And ferry operator Tallink Silja said two of its ships, Silja Serenade and Baltic Princess, had also risked being among those remaining moored on Thursday, hitting 20,000 of their passengers.

"Very many people would be left suffering, above all many families with children having planned an Easter cruise. There's likely to be a lot of tears in many families in case the strike goes ahead," Tallink Silja spokeswoman Marika Nöjd told Finnish radio station Yle earlier on Wednesday.

But Swedes are still facing an Easter weekend set for travel chaos. Thousands of rail travellers are expected to be affected by heavy delays while maintenance work is carried out between Maundy Thursday, April 2nd, and Easter Monday, as The Local reported earlier this week.

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