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Östros to fight for Swedish labour laws at EU meeting

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11:43 CET+01:00
The Swedish government will defend the country's labour laws when EU trade ministers meet this week week to tackle the controversial EU service directive, Industry and Trade Minister Thomas Östros told the Riksdag.

This developed as the Swedish builders union (Byggnads) staged a blockade in Vaxholm to protest the refusal of a Latvian construction firm hiring out workers to sign a collective bargaining agreement as demanded by the local union.

The carpenters are paid 13,700 in monthly wages plus free meals and lodging. Byggnads want the wage hiked to a bit above SKr 20,000 monthly.

LO leader 'flirting' with non-Socialist bloc

Wanja Lundby-Wedin, president of the Swedish Trade Union Confederation (LO) wants the Social Democrat-led government to strike deals with the opposition bloc on key issues, reported DI.

The LO leader finds it unfortunate that bloc politics in Sweden has taken a firmer hold, with the non-Socialists forming an election alliance and the government wooing the Greens. This, Lundby-Wedin asserts, hinders cross-party agreements that she considers necessary to resolve crucial national issues such as social insurance reforms.

"On such important issues a broader consensus is needed if we are to have long-term solutions," she said.

Nuder unfazed by weak dollar

The make-up of Swedish exports, with telecom and raw material goods in great demand, will help the major industries cope with the effects of a weaker dollar, Finance Minister Pär Nuder said. He added that Swedish exporters engage in hedging activity, which cushions the impact of a stronger krona. According to Nuder, the dollar has weakened versus the krona by 40 per cent since 2001, but that despite this, Swedish exporters have been successful over this period.

Gloomy jobs data

New jobs are slow in coming, according to the October unemployment data from Statistics Sweden that show the number of employed in Sweden has declined by 0.9 per cent to 73 per cent in October year-on-year. In terms of those employed in the labour force, the corresponding figure is 76.8 per cent.

Barnevik makes comeback

Percy Barnevik is back on the Swedish scene three years after a hasty exist from the business sector in the wake of the ABB pension scandal. Barnevik resurfaced yesterday at a seminar that was also attended by Industry and Trade Minister Thomas Östros.

At the seminar on Sweden's role and competitiveness in a broader EU, Barnevik said that the fastest economic growth will occur in the east and thus it is crucial to be in that market and reap its benefits. He said Sweden has the industry well suited to Eastern Europe - appliances and cars, for instance, are goods that are likely to enjoy strong demand in that market.

Sources: Dagens Nyheter, Svenska Dagbladet, Dagens Industri

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