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Background information on industrial relations in Sweden

  • 17 Dec 2009
    Sweden: Government proposes post-Laval legislation

    The Swedish government has proposed a new law on a reformed labour market that limits the possibility for industrial action against foreign employers. The reforms are seen as necessary because of the implications of the European Court of Justice ruling in the Laval case. The proposal was preceded by an inquiry and a lengthy period of discussion between stakeholders. Despite this, the government has not taken criticism into account, and its bill is thus similar to the inquiry.

  • 02 Dec 2009
    Sweden: Swedish government unveils measures to fight unemployment

    In August 2009, the government announced parts of its employment policy programme for 2010 and 2011. The planned measures comprise an investment of about €810 million in educational programmes and vocational training courses, as well as labour market activation measures for unemployed people. The trade unions have criticised the measures for being insufficient to combat the expected high unemployment rates due to the recession in the coming years.

  • 26 Oct 2009
    Sweden: Proposed law to protect personal privacy at work

    The Swedish government has made a new legislative proposal on the protection of personal privacy in working life, with the help of a special commission set up to evaluate the current legislation. The proposal sets out mainly five stricter regulations on surveillance or control measures used by employers. The trade unions have in general reacted positively to the proposal, but the employer organisations are very critical of the content of the proposal.

  • 05 Oct 2009
    Sweden: Social partners debate wage bargaining model

    The pre-negotiations for the next bargaining round in 2010 have already begun between the social partners in the summer of 2009. However, the parties have not only discussed the prospects for wage increases in 2010, they have also debated whether there is a need for reforming the Swedish wage formation system. The Swedish Trade Union Confederation proposes looking at economic sectors other than manufacturing in terms of setting the trend for wage formation in the future.

  • 25 Sep 2009
    Sweden: Social partners disagree on solutions for youth unemployment

    Youth unemployment in Sweden is among the highest in Europe. Lately, the social partners, the government and the media have been focusing on the difficult position of young people due to the ongoing recession and their future labour market opportunities. The employers and trade unions disagree on the reasons for youth unemployment and the measures that should be taken in order to improve the situation.

  • 22 Sep 2009
    Representativeness of the European social partner organisations: Steel industry – Sweden

    The aim of this representativeness study is to identify the respective national and supranational actors (i.e. trade unions and employer organisations) in the field of industrial relations in the steel industry in Sweden. In order to determine their relative importance in the sector’s industrial relations, this study will, in particular, focus on their representational quality as well as on their role in collective bargaining.

  • 18 Sep 2009
    Sweden – Greening the European economy: Responses and initiatives by Member States and social partners

    The Swedish government has presented a strategy for stimulating new jobs in accordance with the crisis. But when it comes to green issues, the automotive industry is nearly the only sector addressed. However, a commission was recently appointed to advice the government on issues concerning the integration of the environment and other parts of the Swedish society.The social partners are generally engaged in these issues. Cooperation between the social partners on green issues is however rare and there seems to be a discrepancy between the terminologies used by the different organisations when discussing the green agenda.

  • 16 Sep 2009
    Sweden: New temporary unemployment insurance rules adopted

    In adopting new temporary unemployment insurance rules, the government has responded to trade union criticism regarding the increase in membership fees to the unemployment insurance funds and the reduction in unemployment benefit payments in 2006 and 2007. The government has now reduced the membership fees and made it easier for people to receive unemployment benefits. However, the trade unions consider that the changes are insufficient.

  • 15 Sep 2009
    Sweden: Flexicurity and industrial relations

    Sweden has a long tradition of security in terms of active and passive labour market policies. The flexibility aspect has been up for debate by the employer organisations since Denmark has shown higher employment rates than Sweden in recent years although the countries face similar economic opportunities. The prime issue up to debate on flexibility in Swedish labour market policy is the Employment Protection Act that states turn-taking rules on notice of employees in times of redundancy of work. An important part of security for employees negotiated in collective agreements are the supplementary benefits to redundant employees, these insurances cover 50% of the labour force, provide severance pay and, in some cases, outplacement services.

  • 01 Sep 2009
    Sweden: Conflict between social partners over proposed work environment changes

    A letter issued by the Confederation of Swedish Enterprises proposing changes to the Work Environment Act has led to a heated debate among the social partners. Trade unions are opposed to the suggestion of reduced power for safety representatives and increased power for the employers. The employer organisations, on the other hand, want more individual responsibility for the work environment, in addition to new measures to deal with abuse of safety representatives’ role.

  • 12 Aug 2009
    Sweden: Pressure on wage negotiations due to economic crisis

    Prior to the collective bargaining rounds for 2010, Sweden’s largest employer organisations are arguing for zero salary increases, due to the global economic crisis. Trade union representatives contend that the employer organisations are using the economic situation as an excuse to cut salaries. Preparations for the 2010 wage negotiations have already started. About 500 out of a total of 600 central agreements are to be settled in the bargaining rounds.

  • 30 Jul 2009
    Representativeness of the European social partner organisations: Tanning and leather sector – Sweden

    The aim of this representativeness study is to identify the respective national and supranational actors (i.e. trade unions and employer organisations) in the field of industrial relations in the tanning and leather sector in Sweden. In order to determine their relative importance in the sector’s industrial relations, this study will, in particular, focus on their representational quality as well as on their role in collective bargaining.

  • 21 Jul 2009
    Sweden: Workers at Scania accept temporary layoffs

    The number of local agreements in Sweden has increased rapidly and temporary layoffs have become a popular way of restraining the effects of the economic recession and avoiding redundancies. Trade union views differ regarding whether temporary layoffs and pay cuts are good ways to meet the challenges of the current labour market situation. Many companies have applied the new national agreement on temporary layoffs, including the commercial vehicle manufacturer Scania.

  • 02 Jul 2009
    Sweden: Multinational companies and collective bargaining

    In Sweden there is a strong tradition that the labour market relies on coverage of collective agreements in order to regulate the labour market. Because MNCs are large-sized firms they have strong mandates in the employer organisations and therefore a big influence on collective bargaining. In the manufacturing sector, the coverage and influence is larger than in the service sector. The firms are pushing for decentralisation and for the possibility to have company negotiations. The strong positions of the trade unions however prevent the abandoning of sector agreements.

  • 15 Jun 2009
    Sweden: White-collar unions under pressure to sign agreement on temporary layoffs

    Unionen, the trade union for professionals in the private sector, and the Swedish Association of Graduate Engineers are under pressure from the Association of Swedish Engineering Industries and the Swedish Service Employers’ Association to conclude a central agreement on temporary lay-offs similar to that concluded for blue-collar workers in the manufacturing sector. After much debate on the impact of such an agreement for white-collar workers, there is clear disagreement among the social partners on the matter.

  • 05 Jun 2009
    Sweden: Social partners censure new finance bill

    The Swedish government’s Spring Fiscal Policy Bill, which was published on 15 April 2009, includes several measures to counter the recession and to boost the labour market in order to maintain jobs. However, trade unions and public authorities criticise the government for not stimulating the economy enough. The employer organisation argues that the bill focuses too much on subsidies and not enough on private and public investments.

  • 01 Jun 2009
    Sweden: Social partners have differing views on Laval Inquiry

    Since the Laval Inquiry was concluded in late December 2008, it has been under the consideration of the Swedish social partners. Overall, the social partners have reacted strongly to the inquiry’s proposals, and opinions differ between and among trade unions and employer organisations. Some trade unions address the need for a change of Community law at European level, while some employer organisations dismiss the Laval Inquiry proposals in favour of new labour legislation.

  • 01 Jun 2009
    Sweden: Conflict in construction sector ends in temporary agreement

    In April 2009, the Swedish Building Workers’ Union announced a planned strike, involving over 3,300 members, against the failure to secure a new collective agreement. In order to avert the strike, the Swedish Construction Federation agreed to the trade union’s demands and on an interim agreement. However, it claims that it was forced to do so due to the financial crisis and the difficulties being faced by the construction and building sector.

  • 30 Apr 2009
    Sweden: Deadlock in negotiations on new central agreement

    Negotiations for a new central agreement between the social partners have ended in deadlock due to disagreements regarding restrictions on industrial action and the renegotiation of the Employment Protection Act (LAS). The employers argued that the priority rules in the case of dismissal set out in the LAS should be changed to focus more on workers’ competences and skills. The trade unions rejected this demand and submitted a counterproposal that would incur costs for employers.

  • 30 Apr 2009
    Sweden: Agreement on temporary layoffs reached in manufacturing

    Due to the current economic crisis and situation in the labour market, a general agreement on temporary layoffs and training has been reached between the central social partners in Sweden’s manufacturing industry. Temporary layoffs are normally prohibited in Sweden and the settlement has caused disagreements among trade unions. While the Union of Metalworkers has welcomed the agreement, Unionen considers it a short-sighted solution.

  • 28 Apr 2009
    Sweden: Wage flexibility and collective bargaining

    The main structural divergence in wage flexibility is found in the area of wage negotiation. Some parts of the workforce are regulated by a mixed system of guaranteed and individually motivated wage increases, while others do not have any guaranteed levels of wage increases. The latter of these two systems relates to academics that hence have the highest degree of wage flexibility. Even though collective bargaining is conducted on central level, most issues related to wage flexibility are resolved locally, implicating that most aspects of wage flexibility are not in the centre of attention among social partners at central level.

  • 28 Apr 2009
    Representativeness of the European social partner organisations: Hospitals – Sweden

    The aim of this representativeness study is to identify the respective national and supranational actors (i.e. trade unions and employer organisations) in the field of industrial relations in the hospital sector in Sweden. In order to determine their relative importance in the sector’s industrial relations, this study will, in particular, focus on their representational quality as well as on their role in collective bargaining.

  • 31 Mar 2009
    Sweden: Wage formation

    The wage formation system in Sweden is slowly changing. The development goes from strict collective agreements of wage formation at the sector level to more individualised wage negotiation at company level. The IT sector has a leading role in this regard. Minimum wages are only enacted in collective agreements. The minimum wages that exist are relatively high when compared internationally. While minimum wages aren’t a much debated issue, the gender pay gap is often debated and the struggle towards more equal wages is emphasized by all social partners. However, the gender gap decreases very slowly.

  • 24 Mar 2009
    Sweden: Ombudsman censures Social Insurance Agency for delay in payments

    The Parliamentary Ombudsman has criticised the Swedish Social Insurance Agency for not paying out insurances to people on time, in line with the administration act. The agency cites its recent major reorganisation for the delays in processing payments. The media and the social partners have strongly criticised the agency’s services. Thus, the government has proposed to set up a new supervisory authority for social insurance to ensure that timely payments are made by the agency.

  • 24 Mar 2009
    Sweden: Social partners in motor industry seek to bring back layoff pay

    The social partners and the car industry in Sweden have tried to convince the government to reintroduce layoff pay as a measure to deal with workforce dismissals resulting from the current economic crisis. However, so far, the government has expressed little interest in doing so. Among the proposals to avoid redundancies are payments towards vocational training. In fact, the government has added some training investment measures to its budget plans for 2009.

  • 11 Mar 2009
    EIRO annual review 2007 - Sweden

    This year’s collective bargaining round has been a major one, involving over 75% of the employees (approx 3 million). The wage level increases are expected to be substantially higher (2007-2009) than those of the previous period (2004-2006), ending up on an average of 4,6% compared to 3,1%. These wage increases might in the long term increase inflation and hence reduce employment and increase unemployment. Furthermore, if the economy were to weaken, further negative consequences may follow. The new government aims to increase more flexibility on the labour market by several new policies mentioned below, measures which in part already have been implemented.

  • 09 Mar 2009
    The impact of the information and consultation directive on industrial relations — Sweden

    Only minor amendments have been made to national legislation in Sweden to implement Directive 2002/14/EC on information and consultation. The Co-Determination Act already covered many of the elements found in the directive, and the amendments required to the Act were limited. The effects on Swedish industrial relations of implementing the directive have so far been limited. However, some social partners have expressed concern that the implementation approach adopted could increase the administrative workload for companies not bound by collective agreements and at the same time weaken the role of collective agreements.

  • 13 Feb 2009
    Sweden: Swedish Laval Inquiry proposals may prove difficult to implement

    The Swedish Laval Inquiry Committee presented the results of its assessment in December 2008. In April 2008, the committee had been asked to present proposals for changes to Swedish legislation following the Laval judgment by the European Court of Justice. The outcome of the committee’s inquiry has met with a mixed response, with all of the social partners agreeing that its mission to harmonise the Swedish labour market model and EU law will be more difficult to implement in practice.

  • 13 Feb 2009
    Sweden: Stricter rules for sick leave introduced

    Government changes to the national health insurance system last year first became noticeable for people on sick leave in January 2009. The social partners have different views on the new rules, highlighting both opportunities and risks. Trade unions fear a lack of awareness of the changes and that people may be adversely affected during difficult economic times. Employer organisations believe that the changes will allow people to maintain their working capacity and support themselves.

  • 12 Feb 2009
    Sweden: Collective bargaining and continuous vocational training

    Sweden does not have a coordinated national system for CVT. Even though social partners in some sectors regulate CVT by collective bargaining at sectoral level, this issue is traditionally not a top priority of the collective bargaining agenda.Further, this report has shown that there has been limited development on the area of CVT since 2002. The most essential change in this field has been the 2004 years inclusion of blue-collar workers to the adjustment agreements regime. Making it possible for many blue-collar workers to benefit from CVT in instances of redundancies.

  • 19 Jan 2009
    Sweden: Entry of educated young people into the labour market

    Public follow-up studies in Sweden show that persons who finished upper secondary school or who graduated from university in 2004/2005 have difficulties in finding a job relevant to their education. The situation is somewhat more complicated for those who finished upper secondary school. Trade unions and the main employer organisation have different suggestions on how to support people’s entry into the labour market.

  • 14 Jan 2009
    Sweden: Unemployment high among young people in Sweden

    Unemployment among young people is significantly higher in Sweden than the EU average. Many young graduates seeking employment feel they lack support from the public welfare system. The situation is even worse for those who do not have a university degree. While the government has introduced measures to tackle youth unemployment through the job guarantee scheme, these efforts clash with many of the municipalities’ initiatives.

  • 14 Jan 2009
    Sweden: Government launches crisis package to tackle economic recession

    In response to mounting pressure to react to the economic recession and downturn in the labour market, the Swedish government finally presented a crisis package in December 2008. The action plan seeks to stimulate employment and ease the effects of the recession. However, it generated widespread criticism, despite some positive responses. Nevertheless, according to the government, the EU Commission claims that Sweden’s Budget Bill is the most extensive in Europe.

  • 05 Jan 2009
    Sweden: Swedish labour market model under threat

    The Swedish labour market model is based on social partner dialogue and negotiation on collective agreements, rather than state regulation. However, globalisation, EU membership and a decline in trade union membership have affected the unions’ role in the labour market in particular. A report from the Ratio Institute now questions the legitimacy of the social partners and calls for a change of the Swedish labour market model.

Page last updated: 05 September, 2014