Project activities in Sweden
Labour market regulation in Sweden
The existing main (collective) agreement (Saltsjöbadsavtalet) was negotiated in 1938 between the social partners and gives them the right and responsibility to regulate pay and employment conditions. Self-regulation through collective bargaining is therefore strong. The social partners are often represented in advisory bodies or reference groups to government committees or enquiries.
The Codetermination Act (Medbestämmandelagen, MBL, 1976:580) regulates employee consultation and participation in working life. The MBL is the main law for the system of collective regulations; it is a framework law that must be implemented through collective agreements. It gives trade unions, as collective agents for their members, the right to elect their representatives, receive information or be consulted about management decisions.
The Employment Protection Act (Lag om Anställningsskydd, LAS, 1982:80) is a fundamental law in the Swedish labour market regulating when and how an employee can and cannot be dismissed. The law protects employees from being given notice or dismissed without objective reasons, such as shortage of work or serious misuse. The act also gives the employer considerable responsibility for finding suitable replacement employment for the worker before the person can be fired.
Another important law is the Work Environment Act regulating the work environment in the labour market. The Swedish Work Environment Authority (Arbetsmiljöverket) is responsible for monitoring the implementation of the Work Environment Act as well as the Working Time Act. The authority carries out labour inspections; however, it has been downsized by about 40% during the last year. (Source: European Industrial Relations Observatory: Sweden: Industrial relations profile, 2009)
Main trade union organisations
Trade union confederations are demarcated by occupation. There are three main confederations: one for skilled and unskilled blue-collar workers, although it often includes clerical employees and lower grade public servants; one for white-collar employees; and one for academic professionals. More specifically, these trade union organisations are the:
• Swedish Trade Union Confederation (Landsorganisationen i Sverige, LO), with 1.6 million members among blue-collar workers;
• Swedish Confederation of Professional Employees (Tjänstemännens Centralorganisation, TCO), with about 1.2 million members – mainly white-collar workers;
• Swedish Confederation of Professional Associations (Sveriges Akademikers Centralorganisation, SACO), which organises almost 600,000 civil servants and professional employees with academic degrees. (Source: European Industrial Relations Observatory: Sweden: Industrial relations profile, 2009; LO Research Röster om facket och jobbet, 2010)
The three main employer organisations are the:
• Confederation of Swedish Enterprise (Svenskt Näringsliv), which was founded in 2001 after a merger between the Swedish Employers’ Confederation and the Federation of Swedish Industry. It represents employers in the private sector and has a membership of about 50 employer organisations or trade organisations from different industries;
• Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions (Sveriges Kommuner och landsting, SKL). It represents the governmental, professional and employer-related interests of Sweden’s 290 municipalities, 18 county councils and two regions;
• Swedish Agency for Government Employers (Arbetsgivarverket). A state agency, it is responsible since 1994 for the employer policy of agencies in the public sector at national level and negotiates on behalf of about 270 public authorities. (Source: European Industrial Relations Observatory: Sweden: Industrial relations profile, 2009)
BASTUN's BSLN Activities
BASTUN will adopt a vision document for sustainable labour markets in the Baltic Sea region in the spring 2011. This vision is a contribution to the BSLN “Political Agenda for Sustainable Labour Markets". In 2011, BASTUN and NFS are also facilitating the preparations of a cross-border initiative “Baltic Organising Academy” taken by the Nordic Trade Union Federations Nordic Industrial Workers Union (Nordic IN), Nordic Transport Workers Federation (NTF) and the Nordic Union for Hotel, Restaurant, Catering and Tourism employees (NU HRCT). The actual project might start in 2012.
In May 2010 BASTUN contributed to the Mid-term Conference "Working Together for Sustainable Labour Markets".
In November 2009 BASTUN organised a High-Level Trade Union Meeting in order to discuss, what is trade unions' role to make Baltic Sea region a model for the rest of Europe in terms of sustainable labour market developments.
In November 2008 BASTUN organised in cooperation with the Council of Nordic Trade Unions (NFS) tripartite kick-off conference of BSLN “Mobility of Labour: Blessing or Curse?" in Copenhagen. As a result of this conference, BASTUN published a document “Mobility of Labour: Blessing or Curse? Trade Union Positions on the Mobility of Labour on Mobility of Labour in the Baltic Sea Region”.
In autumn 2008 BASTUN also published a document "Baltic Sea Strategy for Fair and Functional Labour Markets".