400 jobs to go at train operator SJ
Increased competition is forcing the national train operator SJ to lower costs and today it announced that 400 jobs will go, as part of a 1 billion kroner cost cutting package over the next three years. SJ's CEO Christer Fritzon told the news agency TT that they will invest in more modern trains and more self-service solutions, but that to be competitive, the ticket prices will also have to be lowered.
Customer services will be located in Ånge in northern Sweden, which means the offices in Tranås will be closed, leave 95 people without a job there. In addition to the 400 jobs, there are another 53 temporary contracts in sales that will be terminated.
SJ says that the staff cuts are just a part of the extensive savings, amounting to SEK 200 million out of the total package.
SJ's sister company, state-owned freight operator Green Cargo, is also cutting jobs. According to Västerbottenskuriren, 600 people will have to go in the next few years. This means that, by 2016, the number of Green Cargo staff will be cut by a quarter.
Stefan Bieder, chairman of the trade union at Green Cargo says the government's ten percent profit margin is unreasonable and that the fee to run trains on the tracks has quadrupled over the past six years. And still the train track is serious need of repair.
Tthe Green Party has criticised the government for the cuts. "This is a result of the failed train policies of the Alliance. SJ has been making profits several years in a row, but still have to make cuts, because the profit is going straight into (finance minister) Anders Borg's coffers, instead of being reinvested in the company," says party spokesperson Åsa Romson in a press statement.
The state reviews demands on SJ's profit margins
The government is currently reviewing the stipulated profit margins set for SJ, Green Cargo and other companies, according to financial markets minister Peter Norman.