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Collective agreements important for people's trust in the future

| By Björn Lindahl, Editor-in-chief

It has been trying times for everyone participating in the Nordic exercise known as collective bargaining. The social partners deciding, between themselves, how wages should develop, is one of the pillars of the Nordic model.

Our theme in this edition is how collective bargaining has been influenced by the corona pandemic. The negotiations have so far not started in Sweden, but in the other four countries things have gone pretty much according to plan. The tone might have been a bit more strained, like in Iceland, and strike actions more plentiful, like in Finland. But when the collective agreement for the private sector in Denmark was voted through with nearly 80%, it also demonstrated a very strong belief in the collective agreement model among the wage earners.

We have written portraits of Swedish LO’s new President Susanna Gideonsson and her counterpart Jarkko Eloranta at SAK. Both want to defend the Nordic model against all attempts by the EU to change the rules of the game.

“The Nordic cooperation is incredibly important both between trade union confederations and between civil servants and academics. We also completely agree on this issue, which feels really good,” says Susanna Gideonsson. 

It is only right to highlight that employers too are showing Nordic solidarity. This joint announcement was made by seven Nordic employers’ organisations who recently gathered in Brussels: 

The wheels of the economy will only start turning if we can stimulate demand. Demand, trade, consumption and investment will start when there is predictability and solid prospects for business. It is essential to build confidence in the future if we are to boost the economy and secure a green recovery.

In a time with a pandemic, Brexit and an American election with an unknown outcome, it feels safe to be part of a group of like-minded Nordic countries. It was understandable that all of them reacted more or less in the same nationalistic way when the pandemic broke out, considering this was something completely new.

“But no-one should get a ‘bollocking’ for that,” said Denmark’s Minister for Nordic Cooperation, Mogens Jensen, as he invited his colleagues to the first face-to-face meeting since the pandemic arrived.

Instead, the focus should remain on how we, as fast as possible, can get back to what is at the core at the Nordic cooperation – Nordic citizens' freedom to travel, live, study and work in the other Nordic countries.

This is not least important for young students who see their opportunity for international experience blocked because of the fear of infection. Perhaps there will be no studies in Australia or work experience in Ecuador, but a stay in Tampere or Lund instead?

It is also important to look at the positive aspects in the middle of all this. A Norwegian working life barometer made by Norway’s Work Research Institute shows that the pandemic has also led to improved gender equality and less stress, while more people also feel they have a meaningful job with positive challenges.


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