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Stockholm waste collectors quit as strike hits one-week mark

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Stockholm waste collectors quit as strike hits one-week mark
Jan Spanedal of the Transport workers' union speaking to colleagues last week. Photo: Jonas Ekströmer/TT
11:56 CEST+02:00
Around 65 waste collectors in Stockholm quit their jobs on Wednesday, a week after they first walked out in a pay dispute and row over keys.

The employees of waste collection company Reno Norden started the wildcat strike last Wednesday in response to salary changes due to be rolled out in October, which staff argue will effectively mean working more for less.

The discontent has been brewing for some time and erupted into a full-blown row when the company last week attempted to collect all keys to waste trucks and stations in Stockholm to create a digital key register.

According to waste collectors, the move makes it easier for their employers to fire them.

After a week's strike with no resolution in sight, they handed in their notice on Wednesday. Waste collectors working for another firm, Liselotte Lööf, also walked out in solidarity, reported Transportarbetaren.

"That means the whole of Stockholm has no waste collection until the conflict has been resolved," Jan Spanedal, chairman of the Transport workers' union at Reno Norden, said in a press statement.

However, Katarina Johansson, head of Stockholm City Council's waste management services, said Liselotte Lööf's workers had not walked out.

"We've been in touch with the owner and he says it's not the case," she told the TT news agency.

Reno Norden said in a statement of their own that they had offered the workers to keep their salaries at around 35,000 kronor a month ($4,170), in return for working one hour more a day, in other words increasing their work hours on average from 29.5 hours a week to 34.5 hours a week, but the workers declined.

"We went through a democratic process. We got together and talked about it and voted for this proposal [resignation]. Most of us voted for, so we have handed in our notice," Francisco Acosta, one of Reno Norden's waste collectors walking out, told TT outside its offices in Älvsjö.

He said he had mixed feelings and was sad to leave, but added: "We are proud that we are united, we don't accept wage dumping. You don't lower wages in Sweden, that's it."

The strike, which is set to go before the Swedish Labour Court on Friday, is not officially backed by the Transport workers' union, however its representatives are involved in trying to reach a settlement.

Swedish labour rules normally do not permit industrial action during the term of a collective bargaining agreement, which is negotiated between the labour unions and the employers.

The Swedish Confederation of Transport Enterprises, which represents companies in the transport sector, has accused the workers of violating this principle, usually referred to as a duty or obligation of peace.

"They're violating the peace duty, the collective agreement and by extension the Swedish model. We have rules and you have to follow them," its CEO Mattias Dahl said.

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