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New agreement at LSG Sky Chefs in Sweden - Success for HRF and catering workers

Posted to the IUF website 04-Sep-2004

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After 3 days of negotiations imposed by the National Mediation Office, the Swedish Hotel and Restaurant Workers Union, HRF, and LSG Sky Chefs, signed a new collective agreement late Friday afternoon, September 3, thus averting the strike that the union had announced for September 6.

The agreement calls for a wage increase of 1,500 Swedish crowns (approximately EUR 165) over a three-year period. This is the amount that HRF had been demanding since negotiations began in May.

Catering workers are already badly underpaid compared to workers in other occupations and industries. HRF was determined to improve this situation and win for its members in airline catering the same increase obtained in other branches of industry.

In addition to the wage increase, the new agreement calls for the creation of a working group, consisting of representatives from the union, the company as well as a neutral party, which shall look at employment development and ways to improve working conditions. HRF hails this as an important step in addressing issues which have been at the root of the many grievances, large and small, which have arisen this year and have led to general dissatisfaction amongst workers.

Industrial action was scheduled to begin on Monday, September 6 at noon and involve about 400 HRF members in food preparation, packaging and delivery at Sweden's 3 international airports.

The IUF, the International Transport Workers Federation, ITF, and their European regional organisations, EFFAT and ETF, kept unions in Europe informed of the dispute and alerted them to the possibility of workers being instructed to deliver and load meals for return flights from Sweden. This practice, known as back catering, could seriously weaken a strike.

Expressions of solidarity and support were received from unions in Norway, Denmark, Spain, France and Belgium, as well as the Swedish Transport Workers Union and the white-collar workers union HTF.

Solidarity within LSG Sky Chefs

In January 2002, unions in Norway, Denmark and Sweden successfully prevented LSG from back-catering flights to Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport during a strike/lock-out of LSG Sky Chefs workers there. In October 2002, the IUF and ITF co-ordinated a solidarity campaign amongst unions organising LSG Sky Chefs workers at European airports in support of the US hotel and restaurant workers union HERE (now UNITE HERE) and their struggle for a new agreement.

Currently, a strike warning is in effect at LSG Sky Chefs at Mallorca Airport (Spain), where the company has been unwilling to negotiate the renewal of the agreement which expired on February 28, 2004.