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BUSINESS

Huawei loses Swedish appeal over 5G ban

A Swedish court on Wednesday rejected an appeal from China's Huawei over the government's decision to ban the network equipment giant from the rollout of 5G mobile network infrastructure in the Nordic country.

A technician stands at the entrance to a Huawei 5G data center at the Guangdong Second Provincial General Hospital in Guangzhou, in southern China's Guangdong province, Sunday, Sept. 26, 2021. The hospital in southern China's Guangdong Province is using 5G and IoT technologies to collect, transmit and monitor more data in real time, allowing healthcare workers to provide better medical service for patients. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan) XHG208
In 2020, Sweden banned network operators from using Huawei equipment in the buildup of 5G infrastructure. Photo: AP Photo/Ng Han Guan

The administrative court of appeal in Stockholm said in a statement it believed it was fair to assume that the use of Huawei’s products in central functions of the 5G network “can cause harm to Sweden’s security.”

After the UK in the summer of 2020, Sweden became the second country in Europe and the first in the EU to explicitly ban Huawei from almost all of the network infrastructure needed to run its 5G mobile network.

Beijing warned at the time that the Swedish Post and Telecom Authority’s (PTS) decision could have “consequences” for the Scandinavian country’s companies in China, prompting Swedish telecom giant and Huawei competitor Ericsson to worry about retaliatory measures.

The PTS’ decision also included a provision that equipment already installed had to be removed by January 1, 2025, which the appeals court also confirmed.

“Sweden’s security is a particularly strong interest and the Swedish Post and Telecom Authority’s decision is based on a real, current and sufficiently serious threat to Sweden’s security,” judge Anita Linder said in a statement.

Huawei first appealed the decision to a lower court which also sided with the PTS in June 2021.

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SAS STRIKE

Direct talks raise hopes SAS strike can be avoided

Scandinavian airline SAS and the Swedish pilot union Swedish Air Line Pilots Association (SPF) are now in direct talks, without the help of mediators, raising hopes that a strike scheduled for Saturday can be avoided. 

Direct talks raise hopes SAS strike can be avoided

“It is a positive sign that they can talk directly,” said Jan Sjölin, the official mediator appointed by Sweden’s National Mediation Office (Medlingsinstitutet).

On June 9, the pilot unions of Sweden, Norway and Denmark submitted their notice to strike on June 29th, with the strike then postponed until July 1st, and then again until July 2nd. 

If negotiations do not succeed, 900 pilots could go on strike at midnight.

The fact that the mediators have now taken a step back should be seen as a step forward for the negotiations, according to Sjölin.  

“As mediators we try to get the parties to agree on the disputed issues,” he said. “If we see that they are able to handle the discussion better themselves, then we urge the parties to do so and sit down to try to come to an agreement.” 

Mediators from The National Mediation Office (Medlingsinstitutet), a Swedish government agency tasked with mediating in labour disputes, have been assisting the negotiations since June 13th.

Sjölin emphasises that in Sweden it is always preferable that the parties talk on their own.

“We task them to do so. And then we are on hand making sure that the process moves forward. As soon as they report that there is a wrench in the works, we strip everything down and give it a good oiling so it all runs smoothly,” he said.

Sjölin would not give his judgement of how likely it was that a strike would be avoided. 

“No, that is impossible. The nature of all negotiations is that nothing is done until everything is done. Even the last details can derail the whole deal,” he said.

The SAS management and SPF have been in intensive negotiations for several weeks on a new collective agreement.

The Swedish pilot union believes that SAS is circumventing the right to re-employment by using staff from two subsidiaries as temporary labourers. 

Some 560 pilots who were laid off during the pandemic have not been re-employed.

Karin Nyman, communications director at SAS, did not want to comment on the latest developments in the negotiations, but briefly summarised her company’s position.

“We are in an extremely difficult situation after this long pandemic. We are completely dependent on being able to implement our transformation plan. To do that, we need to radically reduce our costs and modernise our business. That requires great cost reduction. And we can not agree to conditions that are not in line with that,” said Nyman.

On the Norwegian side pressure is mounting on SAS. When asked by Norwegian newspaper Verdens Gang if they were prepared to let the company go bankrupt, the Norwegian pilot union issued a threat.

“Yes, without a doubt. If the company is unable to keep in line with the Scandinavian model, we believe that it is an actor that does not have the right to survive,” said Roger Klokset, leader of the union Norske SAS-flygeres forening (NSF).

According to Roger Klokset, the employees are pushed into a corner and have no other options. If the parties do not come to an agreement before midnight, the consequence may be that 900 pilots, among them 400 Norwegians, will go on strike.

“I can say that the last thing we want is for there to be a strike, but for us this fight is a matter of principle, and it is for fundamental labour rights for employees in the Nordic region, said Klokset.

The old collective agreement between the Scandinavian pilot union and SAS expired at the end of March. Negotiations between the unions and SAS have been ongoing since November of last year.

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