SHARE
COPY LINK

EMPLOYMENT

Riksdag hands government labour policy setback

The government faces the threat of an embarrassing climbdown in its employment policy following a vote to halt a controversial programme for the long-term unemployed.

In a tight ballot, the Riksdag on Thursday voted 152 to 149 to pass a bill calling for scrapping the current format of the so called ‘phase 3’ of the government’s jobs and development guarantee policy.

While the opposition wants phase 3 to be stopped altogether, the government seeks better ways of dealing with the long term unemployed.

The vote in itself does not necessarily mean the controversial programme will be abandoned, but it still represents an uncomfortable situation for the minority Alliance coalition, in what has turned into a heated national debate underlining the delicate balance in parliament.

The controversy surrounds the phase 3 part of the government’s three-part jobs and development guarantee programme introduced in 2007.

The final phase of the programme was designed to ensure that participants were offered employment at a workplace in order to gain experience and fresh references following periods of coaching and re-training.

Opposition, both in the Riksdag and among the public has highlighted that companies are being subsidized by the tax payer to take on new workers, regardless of their suitability for the job.

Opponents claim that phase 3 offers no real help to the long-term unemployed, while employers can in effect enjoy free labour.

Labour secretary Hillevi Engstrom had already vowed to review the process but says she is surprised by the weight of opposition to the plans.

“We will weigh it up and discuss things further” she told news agency TT.

Meanwhile opposition has come from many quarters, not least among the Christian Democrats, themselves a member of the centre-right minority government coalition.

“We have seen the flaws, it is possible to do much better,” said Penilla Gunther of the employment committee. However she is dismissive of the opposition’s calls to scrap phase 3 altogether.

“They leave it up to the government to make proposals, but they do not have any of their own,” she said.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

GOVERNMENT

Governments including Sweden’s see support tumble for their handling of COVID-19, survey shows

Governments are fast losing support for their handling of the coronavirus outbreak from a public that widely believes death and infection figures to be higher than statistics show, a survey of six countries including Sweden revealed on Saturday.

Governments including Sweden's see support tumble for their handling of COVID-19, survey shows
Sweden's Prime Minister Stefan Lofven (L) speaks with Denmark's Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen during an EU summit in Brussels on July 20, 2020. AFP

Support for the federal government of the United States, the country with the most reported infections and deaths, dropped by four percentage points from mid-June, with 44 percent of respondents declaring themselves dissatisfied, said a report by the Kekst CNC communications consulting group.

In Britain, just over a third of respondents approved of their government's actions, a three-point decline in one month, according to the report, based on an opinion poll conducted over five days in mid-July. 

It also included France, Sweden, Japan and Germany.

“In most countries this month, support for national governments is falling,” the report said.

The notable exception was France, where approval rose by six percentage points, yielding a dissatisfaction rate of 41 percent.

France, which has the world's seventh-highest COVID-19 toll, has all but emerged from lockdown but has seen infections increase in recent days, prompting the government to order face masks in all enclosed public spaces.

In Sweden, which took a controversial soft approach to lockdown and has a higher toll than its neighbours, the prime minister's approval rating has shrunk from a positive seven percent to a neutral zero, the poll found.

'Resigned'

People who participated in the survey —  1,000 per country polled — generally believed the coronavirus to be more widespread, and more deadly, than official figures show.

“Despite relatively low incidence rates compared to earlier in the pandemic in most countries (with the exception of the US), people significantly overestimate the spread and fatality rate of the disease,” Kekst CNC said.

In Sweden and Britain, the public believed that six or seven percent of people have died from the coronavirus, about 100 times the reported rate.

In the United States, respondents estimated that almost a tenth of the population had died of the virus, more than 200 times the real toll, while Germans thought their tally was 300 times higher than what has been reported.

Such views, said the report, “will be impacting consumer behaviour and wider attitudes — business leaders and governments will need to be conscious of this as they move to restart economies and transition into living with coronavirus for the medium to longer term.”

The poll also revealed that fear of a second outbreak wave is growing, and that an ever larger number of people believe the impacts will last for more than a year.

People “are becoming resigned to living with coronavirus for the forseeable future, and looking to leaders and business to pave the way forward,” the report said.

They are also increasingly likely to prioritise limiting the spread of the virus even if the economy suffers.

“In the US, 54 percent want the government to prioritise limiting the spread of the virus over protecting the economy,” it said.

The poll found that mask-wearing was generally popular, except in Sweden, where only about 15 percent of people sport a face-covering in public.

Even in the United States, where mask-wearing has become a politically polarising issue, 63 percent of respondents said they were in favour.

SHOW COMMENTS