Unions and employers sign collective agreements

Several collective agreements were reached on Friday during annual wage bargaining between Swedish trade unions and employers' organisations. Among others, the IF Metall union will receive a 3.2 percent wage increase for the next 22 months.

Unions and employers sign collective agreements

“It is obviously less money this time, but there are other crucial issues that are important for the future,” Veli-Pekka Säikkälä, negotiator for IF Metall, told the TT news agency.

“Without broad union coordination within the Landorganisation (trade union confederation – LO) the question of temporary employment agencies would have never been resolved. Now our members will received wage increases despite the employer’s offer (of nothing) and a strengthened right to re-hiring,” Stefan Löfven, IF Metall chairman, said in a statement.

The agreement translates to an average salary increase of 742 kronor per month. Every employee has a individual guarantee that his or her wage will have increased by at least 392 kronor per month by August 1st 2011.

“The cost increases are in line with the rest of Europe and are at the same level as in the agreement for white collar workers,” said Anders Narvinger, head of the Association of the Swedish Engineering Industries (Teknikföretagen). He also emphasized that the issue of the use of temporary employment agencies has been addressed.

IF Metall’s chairman Löfven of IF Metall is also satisfied with the agreement.

“There is always a bit more that you might want, but at the same time we need to remember that the industry is in a major crisis and has declined by 20 percent since 2008.”

He called attention to the fact that the auto industry has had an even rougher go of it. Löfven believes that the strengthened preferential right is a major step forward for members.

“We have added six months to what is already statutory,” he said.

Around 7000 white collar workers within mining, steel and metal are also covered by another agreement made by Unionen. They will receive a 3.2 wage increase for 22 months. In addition, .2 percent of annual wages will be set aside in individual accounts for professional development.

“I am satisfied by the agreement,” Unionen chairman Cecilia Fahlberg told TT.

The Swedish Association of Graduate Engineers (Sveriges ingenjörer) has also accepted a wage increase of 3.2 percent for 22 months.

However, negotiations between the Swedish Paper Workers Union (Pappers) and the Swedish Union of Forestry, Wood and Graphical Workers (GS) on one hand and the The Swedish Forest Industries Federation (Sveriges skogsindustrier) and the Swedish Federation of Wood and Furniture Industry (Trä- och möbelindustriförbundet) employers’ organisations on the other hand are at an impasse. The negotiations were adjourned on Friday.

“They are not likely to be re-opened before the end of the weekend or at the beginning of next week,” GS press secretary Annette Vahlne told TT.

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Here are the German cities where drivers spend most time stuck in traffic

No-one enjoys getting stuck in a Stau — a traffic jam. And sadly, the scourge of congestion is particularly bad in some German cities. Here are the worst spots.

Here are the German cities where drivers spend most time stuck in traffic
A traffic jam in Hamburg. Photo: DPA

Drivers in Hamburg waste 113 hours — that's the equivalent of nearly five days — a year stuck in traffic.

That’s according to the findings of new research by navigation giant TomTom which found the Hanseatic city to be the traffic jam capital of Deutschland, reported Spiegel on Tuesday.

Next in the ranking of German cities where motorists lose the most time stuck in traffic is Berlin, followed by Nuremberg and then Bremen.

SEE ALSO: Record 745,000 traffic jams on Germany's Autobahn last year

Stuttgart follows in fifth place before Munich, Bonn, Frankfurt am Main, Dresden and, in tenth place, Cologne. 

The data, which was collected throughout 2018, came from navigation devices (fixed in cars), and other sources such as navigation software on iPhones.

Although not every car is covered in the findings, according to TomTom, the large amount of data gathered means it’s possible to provide an accurate picture of the traffic situation across Germany.

The ranking depends on the traffic jam level (Staulevel), which shows the additional travel time in percent.

If the congestion level is 33 percent on a route that takes 60 minutes without traffic jams, for example, then the travel time increases to just under 80 minutes.

READ ALSO: What can Germany do to improve its Autobahn?

Building sites result in traffic jams

Temporary projects such as major construction sites and diversions are included in the study — affected cities may perform worse in one year and significantly better in the next because of these variables.

In 2018, Hamburg reached a traffic jam level of 33 percent — one percentage point more than in the previous year. As a result, motorists in Hamburg lost on average 113 hours a year in traffic jams or congestion. 

In the morning, the average weekly congestion level was as high as 54 percent, and 59 percent in the evening. A trip that lasts 30 minutes in Hamburg without traffic disruptions takes 46 minutes in the morning and 48 minutes in the evening. Traffic was particularly slow on Monday mornings and Friday afternoons.

The situation is slightly different in Berlin, which ranks second in the list and has a congestion level of 31 percent.

The busiest times in the capital are Thursday evening and Friday, just before the start of the weekend.

In total, commuters lost 103 hours a year in 2018 — the equivalent to just over four days — stuck in traffic jams. Another study recently identified Berlin as the traffic jam capital of Germany.

Big events intensify travel chaos

The TomTom study also showed how individual events can influence the volume of traffic.

Tuesday, November 13th last year was the day with the highest traffic congestion in Berlin, with a traffic jam level of 51 percent.  This was due to adverse weather conditions — as well as a concert by the Irish rock band U2 who performed in front of thousands of fans at the Mercedes Benz arena. 

U2's Bono during a concert in Hamburg. Big events in cities can result in more traffic jams. Photo: DPA

Traffic disruption in Munich was two percentage points higher than in the previous year (now 30 percent). The average traffic jam congestion level there was 55 percent in the morning and 58 percent in the evening.

Munich commuters lost 113 hours in traffic over the year — as much as in Hamburg, but the intensity was lower.

The growing traffic is also related to the real estate boom. Cities where the rent per square meter is high or has risen sharply in recent years are among the leaders in the congestion ranking.

SEE ALSO: What you need to know about getting a German driving license

Study authors said that rising rents mean workers are pushed out of cities and therefore have to commute longer distances to get to work. As the number of commuters grows, so does the traffic jams. 

The four cities with the highest prices per square metre (Munich, Frankfurt am Main, Stuttgart and Berlin) are among the top five in the traffic index.

According to TomTom, the traffic patterns in these cities showed a very high volume of traffic in the mornings and evenings, especially on entry and exit roads as well as ring roads.