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UNIONS

Shop strike averted by deal

A planned shopworkers' strike over Easter weekend has been averted after unions and employers agreed on a three-year pay deal.

The deal gives average wage increases of 12.6 percent over three years for 120,000 shopworkers and 30,000 warehouse employees.

The Commercial Employees Union (Handels) and the Swedish Trade Federation (Svensk Handel) had agreed on an identical agreement on Saturday. That deal was blocked by the Swedish Trade Federation’s parent organization, Confederation of Swedish Enterprise (Svenskt Näringsliv).

The new deal means that a strike called for the lead-up to Easter will not take place. Planned sympathy strikes by other unions have also been averted. The Swedish Trade Federation could face fines from the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise for ignoring its orders. Despite that, unions and employers said they were happy with the agreement.

“The deal gives shopworkers rises as big as those for people working in industry,” said Kenneth Bengtsson, chairman of the Swedish Trade Federation. He added that he was “extremely certain” that there would be no fine for going over the head of his parent organization.

Lars-Anders Häggström, chairman of the Commercial Employees Union, criticized the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise for causing “unnecessary turbulence”.

The Cooperation Committee of the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise condemned the deal, saying it had been reached “despite the fact that other sectors in the confederation considered the wage cost level in the agreement the Swedish Trade Federation wanted to make with the Commercial Employees Union last weekend was too high.”

In a statement released on Thursday evening, the committee said that its concerned remained, although it did not mention any fine or other sanction for the Swedish Trade Federation.

WORK

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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