Possible conflict over taxi-drivers' pay

On 17 August 1999, the Swedish Transport Worker's Union gave notice to taxi-cab companies of a blockade of all passenger traffic to and from Sweden's major airports. The actions were due to start on the night of 2-3 September if mediation over a new collective agreement for the taxi-drivers was not successful.

Negotiations between the Swedish Road Transport Employer's Association (Biltrafikens Arbetsgivarförbund, BA), and the Swedish Transport Worker's Union (Svenska Transportarbetareförbundet, Transport) over a new collective agreement for taxi drivers and taxi telephone exchange operators finally failed on 8 August 1999. On 17 August, Transport gave notice to the taxi-cab companies of a blockade of all passenger traffic, including related work at the taxi telephone exchanges, to and from the largest Swedish airports - Arlanda and Bromma (Stockholm), Landvetter (Gothenburg) and Sturup (Malmö). If the subsequent mediation process is not successful, the blockade was due to start in the night of 2-3 September 1999. At the time of writing (late August) nothing had been reported so far on the work of the two mediators.

The negotiations cover about 5,000 companies employing about 15,000 taxi drivers and telephone operators. The disagreement between the parties comprises both pay and general working conditions. A central conflict concerns the issue of the guaranteed wage. The employers offered Transport an increase of 25% in this wage, raising it from SEK 9,600 per month to SEK 12,000 per month. However, the trade union did not accept the offer, stating that the new basis of calculation that the employers wanted to establish, based over 12 weeks rather than four, might mean no benefit at all for the drivers. "A bad month with a bad income may be set off against a good month's income", stated Transport secretary Per Winberg in an announcement. The guaranteed wage for those taxi drivers who work on a commission basis is meant to act as a safety net when the commission income from driving falls below the level of the guaranteed wage.

The transport of sick, old and disabled people was not to be included in the planned industrial action, while single-person taxi companies were also to be excluded

The BA employers' organisation has also demanded individual pay-setting for the telephone operators in taxi exchanges, which Transport opposes. For this group of workers, there is the complication that another trade union, the Salaried Employees' Union (Tjänstemannaförbundet, HTF), is trying to recruit new members and seeking to come to an agreement with the employers. HTF is said to be more inclined to accept individual salaries.

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