'Sweden breaches EU labour law': union

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'Sweden breaches EU labour law': union

White-collar trade union TCO said on Tuesday it had reported Sweden to the European Commission due to Swedish employers regularly skirting a directive aimed to limit the number of close-ended employment contracts used in succession.


In June, TCO ordered a Novus opinion poll that surveyed 1,125 people on close-ended contracts. Some 11 percent said they had worked without an open-ended contract for five or more years.

"This figures is interesting because normally such a long chain of close-ended contracts means the employer has to skirt the rules meant to protect against abuse of close-ended contracts," wrote Samuel Engblom, head legal spokesman for TCO, on the op-ed pages of the Dagens Nyheter newspaper.

"The survey result therefore is concrete evidence that Swedish legislation permits that abuse."

While the union recognized that many employers need to be able to call in subs, often at short notice to cover for illness or staff staying at home to care for a sick child, TCO argued that a longer period of uncertain working conditions put employees' wellbeing and health at risk.

"Financial insecurity, stress, difficulties getting a mortgage or a rental apartment, these are just a few examples," Engblom wrote.

"The rules of close-ended contrast must thus be such that there is a balance between employers' need for flexibility and employees' need for security."

The trade union already in 2007 reported Sweden to the European Commission when the country passed labour laws that TCO deemed contradictory to the European directive, dating from 1999, on close-ended contracts.

In Tuesday's op-ed, TCO partly blamed the patchwork of different types of close-ended contracts for a situation in which an employee could work for four years straight without the right to an open-ended job contract. Two years as a substitute for employed staff on leave could be followed by two years on a general temp workers' contract without the employer being legally obliged to offer an open-ended contract, Engblom explained.

"Already in 2007 we warned that Swedish labour laws were at odds with the an EU directive on close-ended work contracts," he added.

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