New Wage Offer Proposed, Union Response Negative
STOCKHOLM, Sweden (AP) _ Management negotiatiors began a new effort Monday night to resolve a spiraling labor conflict that has hit Sweden’s major exporting industries. The initial union response was negative.
The dispute deepened at midnight Sunday when employers locked out 40,000 white-collar workers from the Union of Clerical and Technical Employees who had continued to work through the union’s two-week-old strike.
The union had called 42,300 of its members out on strike for higher wages. The walkout crippled production at some of Sweden’s largest private companies, including automakers AB Volvo and Saab-Scania AB.
About 50,000 assembly line workers have been furloughed, according to Metal Worker’s Union sources, and the figure could climb quickly to 100,000, industrial officials said.
Early Tuesday, the president of the Union of Clerical and Technical Employees, Stig Ahlin, said the new management offer included a general pay increase of 1.9 percent and an additional 4 percent raise after adjusting for inflation. The bid also included some unspecified changes in local negotiations, he said.
The local TT news agency quoted him as saying ″definitely″ when asked if his reply to the new offer was negative.
The workers first demanded up to a 6 percent raise after adjustments for inflation.
Both sides adjourned negotiations after the new offer was submitted. Talks were to resume Tuesday.
The government has refused to intervene. It has said, however, that too high a wage increase would damage the competitiveness of Sweden’s exports.
In a separate labor action, the 200,000-member Swedish Metal Industry Workers’ Union was negotiating a contract to replace one that expired at midnight. No strike threat has been issued.