Shop workers face strike call

Shopaholics across Sweden moved one step closer to enforced cold turkey on Monday as the Commercial Employees Union (Handels) vowed to issue a strike call at 4pm.

The union’s deal with the Swedish Trade Federation (Svensk Handel) to give pay rises of between 11 and 13 percent was blocked on Sunday by the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise (Svenskt Näringsliv). Without a deal, industrial action could be inevitable.

A potential strike could have effects beyond the retail industry: the board of the Commercial Employees Union has asked union confederation LO to consider secondary action, meaning workers in other sectors could go on strike in support of the shopworkers.

The union has given the employers’ organization until 1pm on Monday to sign an agreement.

The Swedish Trade Federation said it was expecting a strike call this afternoon.

“Our board is called to a metting at 4.15pm, and our delegation will meet at 6pm,” said spokeswoman Margareta Ternell.

A strike called on Monday would mean action taking place by Easter weekend.

Sture Nordh, chairman of the Swedish Confederation for Professional Employees, said he was not surprised by the planned strike call, saying that the negotiations were “much more centralized than most of us thought.”

“The interesting thing, of course, is that the Confederation of Swedish Industry is always arguing that negotiations should take place on a sector by sector basis, that they should be local and that they should adapt to the situation in different businesses. But behind the scenes there’s strict coordination,” he said.

Labour market minister Sven Otto Littorin said he would not comment on ongoing negotiations.


Swedish unions want to curb labour migration

Swedish blue-collar trade unions have said it is time for Sweden to revise its labour migration policies, and reintroduce employers' commitment to prove how foreign workers fill gaps in the Swedish market.

Swedish unions want to curb labour migration

The Swedish Trade Union Confederation, LO, wants to reduce migration from outside the Nordic region to Sweden in fields where its 14 blue-collar member unions represent workers.

In a report presented on Wednesday, LO noted that two thirds of permits for non-Nordic citizens are issued for professions where there is already high domestic competition for jobs. The professions include cleaners, construction workers, and employees in the hospitality sector.

“We are not saying that the unions should have some kind of veto,” LO spokesman Thord Ingesson told the Dagens Nyheter newspaper.

“But we think giving permits should be based on some kind of list from the Employment Agency (Arbetsförmedlingen) that shows in which fields employers are having problems finding people.”

The confederation further argues that the reform had not helped plug holes in the labour market, but instead shifted the power balance between employees and employers to the latter’s favour.

The reform, they said, had also opened the doors to exploitation and that authorities needed to take greater responsibility in vetting employers who apply to bring in foreign workers to make sure they were accountable.

The confederation further said that issuing work permits that mean workers have to leave the country if the contract is terminated meant that employees became dependent on their employer. Such a dependence was a threat to their right to highlight concerns in the workplace and their right to take an employer to task if details of their job contract were not honoured.

The permits, LO suggested, should not be tied to a specific employer.

TT/The Local/at

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