No progress at negotiations today - new strikes announced against APM Terminals in Gothenburg

2016-11-04 The union was hopeful that Friday's negotiations with the company would be focused on resolving the six basic issues at the heart of the dispute. Unfortunately, there was no concrete progress. Further industrial action has now been announced.

On Wednesday this week, the Swedish Dockworkers' Union Local 4 in Gothenburg was approached by the local APMT management. At the company's request, the union's basic demands were once again handed over to the APMT CEO Henrik Kristensen in writing.

The APMT management then proposed renewed negotiations to remove the threat of industrial action and establish a new playing field for the parties in the terminal. APM Terminals also insisted that both the union and the company should replace their ordinary delegations and send new representatives to talks on Friday morning at the offices of the Swedish employers organisation. 

It was a very unsusual request, but the SDU decided to grant it in the interest of facilitating a fast resolution to the core issues of the dispute. Instead of the ordinary elected delegation (consisting of local president Peter Annerback and local vice president Anders Möller), the union sent Martin Berg from the board and the union's head Health & Safety officer Ulrik Arkenback to represent the members.

Unfortunatley, the renewed talks did not have the focus the union was expecting. APM Terminals sent two lawyers - Kajsa Edin from the national employers organisation Ports of Sweden and Jonas Lindblad from the law firm Vinge - to represent the company. The company's CEO and Head of HR were sitting in a separate room next door. The SDU representatives felt that a lot of time was initially spent on introducing the lawyers to the background of the dispute and the specific issues at hand. After that, the talks focused extensively on ideological discussions, legal details and the unpresedented concept of introducing a 'no strike'-clause without allowing the SDU to sign the CBA.

After two hours, the employer's representatives ajourned the negotiations and proposed a new meeting on Monday afternoon. At that point there had been absolutely no concrete progress concerning any of the six basic issues at the heart of the dispute. Therefore, the union negotiators stated that the industrial action plan decided on by the members of SDU Local 4 would not be changed.

Just before 14.00 today, the Swedish Dockworkers' Union gave notice about further industrial action against APM Terminals Gothenburg's operations as well as redirected cargo and Maersk containers in other terminals. This will come into effect on the 15th of November, one week after the start of the previously announced overtime ban in the terminal. More details will be presented next week.

(Drafts of letters of intent as well as practical solutions to individual cases have been sent to the local APMT management by the union this afternoon. The purpose of this is to provide a relevant framework for a speedy resolution in the interest of removing the threat of conflict, should the company want to pursue such a path during the weekend)

UPDATE FRIDAY EVENING:
The company has now proposed to resume talks on Sunday afternoon instead of Monday.

Read more about the background to the APMT Gothenburg Dispute here.