Swedish top bosses ‘are underpaid’

Swedish bosses and board members of Sweden-based companies are underpaid, the head of the country's biggest employers' organization has said.

Michael Treschow, chairman of the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise and of Ericsson and Electrolux, wrote in Wednesday’s Svenska Dagbladet that large companies based in Sweden do not pay their board members enough. This makes it difficult to recruit the top international talent needed by companies working in a globalized economy, he claimed.

Treschow also claimed that the salaries of the most senior executives at Swedish multinational companies are way below those paid by privately owned finance companies. These private companies are not subject to the same scrutiny as Swedish listed companies. He warned that many talented young people were being lured away from major Swedish firms as a result.

Unions and employers, who are about to embark on national wage negotiations, should bear in mind the lessons of the 1970s, which proved a destructive period for the Swedish economy, Treschow wrote.

“Then, we lived in the belief that the exceptionally good economic situation of the 1960s would just continue. But this did not happen. Today we live in an open international economy where the relationships between labour and capital are being drastically changed.”

Treschow also slammed unions for showing solidarity to those who already have a job:

“Those in the unions who are demanding the biggest wage increases seem not to be paying attention to the need to create opportunities for those who today are outside the employment market.”