Around 3,000 workers from the Byggnads construction workers’ union were set to go on strike on Tuesday, a move that would have put a stop to work on roughly 160 building sites, including the new Karolinska hospital facilities near Stockholm and improvements to the E4 motorway near Sundsvall in eastern Sweden.
A major sticking point in the talks, which kept negotiators at the table over the long Easter holiday weekend, was the extent to which primary contractors could be held accountable for ensuring that all subcontractors adhere to collective wage agreements.
While the union had pushed for the deal to ensure that all construction workers are adequately paid, employers’ groups complained the demand would put make it impossible to hire foreign workers at Swedish constructions sites.
A negotiator presented a final offer on Monday afternoon and it took several hours before both sides agreed to the deal later in the evening.
According to the terms of the deal, a working group will be set up to come up with solutions for how contractor responsibility can be written into collective wage agreements.
“Now we will have primary contractor responsibility in Sweden just as our Nordic neighbours have. We think this is positive,” Byggnads chair Johan Lindholm told the TT news agency,
Mats Åkerlind, vice chair and chief negotiator for the Swedish Construction Federation (Sveriges Byggindustrier), promised to “work toward solutions that are acceptable for both parties”.
The deal also stipulated that construction worker salaries be tied to levels set by Sweden’s export industries.
In addition, both parties also agreed to increase efforts to improve workplace safety through more research, better orientation training for new workers, and more health checks, among other measures.