Wildcat Rail Strike in Stockholm

Jens Johansson

Summary: Wildcat strike vs. job cuts imposed by both right and center left — Editors

At 3 AM on April 17, the locomotive engineers who go in and out of Stockholm for the regional rail network launched a wildcat strike.

The employer, MTR, decided earlier this spring to go ahead with plans to get rid of the train coach attendant (those who work as staff onboard the trains). If those plans were to be realized, the engineer would be the only staff onboard.

The engineers have protested these plans on behalf of passengers and their safety. They realize that if they were the only staff onboard, they would not be able to guarantee security for passengers. In other words, with this strike, the engineers are not demanding higher wages, more vacation, or anything like that. They are only protesting against the worsened work conditions and for the attendants’ right to keep their jobs.

Originally, it was Stockholm municipality’s right-wing city council that decided to cut funding and save money by laying off all onboard attendants. In September, however, we had the general election, and Stockholm’s right-wing city council was replaced with a coalition of Social Democrats, Greens, and the Centrist Party. Still, even though Stockholm got a supposedly left-leaning leadership, they have kept the transport budget from their predecessors. Today, a representative from the Green party defended the budget cuts and said that the engineers are acting illegally and should go back to work immediately.

There are about 350 engineers who run the regional trains in and out of Stockholm. Not all, but almost 70 % of them joined the wildcat strike today. The union has also protested the plans to fire the attendants, but the union does not support this strike.

The engineers say they plan to be on strike until Wednesday at 11:59 PM if MTR does not withdraw their plans before that.

As most trains in and out of Stockholm were canceled today, many people who commute by regional trains could not get to work. Still, most people seem to support the strike. Passengers, too, want an attendant onboard. The support for the strike is also shown in how a fund was quickly set up to send money to support the striking workers. Within a few hours, that fund quickly reached a much larger amount than the organizers had hoped for.

To put it in context, strikes are unusual in Sweden, at least wildcat strikes like this. Thus, seeing that almost 70 % of the engineers joined the strike, and that so many people support them, is quite inspiring!



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