Lumber exporters in Sweden were hit by a strike of over 1,000 dockers across eight ports in the country. Members of the Swedish Dockworkers Union went on strike at ports across the country, including Malmo in the south, for 2 to 3 hours on the 23rd of January.
In retaliation, the employers organisation Ports of Sweden declared a lockout. Failing an agreement, the strike will be expanded to a total of 15 ports, including the country's biggest in Stockholm and Gothenburg, in the coming days, AFP World News reported.
"It is clear that the conflict is going to hurt Swedish companies hard and soon," the head of the Swedish Confederation of Transport Enterprises, Mattias Dahl, said in a statement.
The forestry sector, one of Sweden's biggest industries, looked set to be particularly affected. Moreover, forestry group Stora Enso said it was concerned its deliveries would be delayed, especially at Gothenburg's roll-on roll-off terminal.
"It's too early to tell how much this strike will affect us. We will try to take steps to minimise the consequences, as much as we can," spokesman Carl Norell said. But if the strike were to drag on, "it could hurt confidence in Sweden as a trading partner," he added.
Swedish companies are busy trying to prepare for the effects of Brexit, as Britain is a large export market.
According to AFP World News, the strike comes after years of conflict between Ports of Sweden and the dockworkers' union, which wants to set up its own collective bargaining agreement instead of belonging to the larger transport workers' agreement. The union -- which has around 1,300 members, or about half of Swedish dockworkers -- argues the current agreement does not enable it to negotiate on working conditions specific to their trade.
Mediators were called in but the union rejected their proposal. The union said it was willing to meet the employers' organisation directly, but the latter said it would only agree to talks once the strike was called off.