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News 2013

The Icesave conflict: Iceland did not break the rules
Icelanders rejoice. The Efta court says Iceland did not break EEA rules when refusing to pay compensation to customers of the Icelandic online bank Icesave. Prime Minister Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir is critical of the other Nordic countries for not supporting Iceland during the dispute.
German-style pay cuts tempt Finnish employers, fuels mistrust
In Finland a hot debate on the lowering wages kicked off at the start of the year, reflecting a deep lack of trust between employers and employees which had been brewing for years.
New employment policy for Denmark
Municipal job centres will undergo a thorough review and might need a total overhaul. Previous employment measures do not work, the government says.
Swedish Presidency hosts 2013 summit on young people and work
The programme for the Nordic Council of Ministers’ cooperation on working life issues for 2013 is called ‘An inclusive working life with focus on young people’ and has been prepared by Sweden’s Minister for Employment Hillevi Engström.
The Nordic role in Europe’s crisis
Participants at the conference ‘Nordic ways out of the crisis’ agreed the Nordic countries can play an important role in southern Europe’s current economic crisis. Yet just how the Nordic countries can work together and how much support there is for such work remains uncertain.
OECD: Norway’s welfare system needs reform to keep people with mental issues in work
Norway’s sickness benefit system allowing 100 percent compensation from day one is too generous. Financial incentives for all parties - employees and employers, unions, municipalities, schools and mental health care services - should help them take responsibility. That is the OECD’s message to Norway.
ILO critical of Sweden’s handling of the Laval case
Sweden’s Labour Court and ”lex Laval” comes under severe criticism from the International Labour Organisation, giving the Swedish government plenty of food for thought.
Iceland: Banking staff face health problems after crash
The health of banking staff has deteriorated since the 2008 Icelandic banking crash. Those who lost their jobs and found new ones are doing better than those who stayed in their original jobs. The number of bank workers visiting health clinics doubled between 2008 and 2012.
Working environment one important key to get Swedes to work for longer
On 9 April the Swedish pension group presented its final report ‘Measures for a longer working life’. As we live longer we need to work for longer, and the review recommends establishing a flexible ‘a recommended retirement age’ for pensions, linked to life expectancy.
ILO: No extra jobs for youths despite older workers’ retirement
Europe must handle rising youth unemployment as well as an ageing population. The fact that young people don’t step into jobs which are vacated might seem like a paradox, but this is what is happening according to the International Labour Organisation, which stages a major conference in Oslo between 8 and 11 April.
Avoiding change-induced stress in the workplace
Changes are common in Nordic workplaces, and the social partners in Denmark are now joining forces to prevent this from causing stress.
New government in Iceland
Iceland has a new government. It has announced a stop to EU membership negotiations to allow time to decide whether negotiations will continue at all. It is still unclear when a referendum on EU membership will take place.
EU standardisation of services worries trade unions
Common EU standards are aiming to speed up cross-border trade in services. Just as long as this doesn’t mean introducing EU rules through the backdoor which would be in breach with member states’ labour law and collective agreements, say trade unions – whose concern is shared by the Swedish government.
Moving public services to fight social marginalisation
The Swedish Equality Ombudsman, DO, has been asked by the government to prepare a move from Stockholm city centre to the suburbs of Tensta/Rinkeby – the areas which only weeks ago were shaken by riots. The Stockholm city council has also just decided to move its education department with 400 staff there.
OECD: Economic worries fuel immigration debate
The number of asylum seekers in the whole of the OECD topped 400,000 for the first time in eight years in 2011. Preliminary figures shows this trend carrying on in 2012. There are large differences within the Nordic region. In Sweden last year nearly twice as many people sought asylum as in Denmark, Finland and Norway combined.
More social enterprises on the horizon in Denmark
Social enterprises are being promoted both by the Nordic region and the EU. Denmark’s government has launched a new strategy.
Elisabeth Svantesson is Sweden’s new Minister for Employment
On 17 September Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt appointed Elisabeth Svantesson as his new Minister for Employment. She replaces Hillevi Engström who became Minister for International Development Cooperation. The reshuffle was announced during the Prime Minister’s government declaration.
The Efta court clashes with Norway’s Supreme Court
Norway’s Supreme Court was wrong to rule that companies posting workers to the Norwegian shipbuilding industry must pay their travel, board and lodging expenses, argues the Efta Court’s President in a general attack on the Supreme Court. He accuses it of being disloyal to the EEA agreement and indicates the last word may still not been had.
More sick leave among ‘double-shift’ women than men
When a woman has her second child while holding down an equally demanding job as the father, she is at twice the risk of going off sick compared to her husband, according to a new report on sick leave among women, presented in Sweden on 5 November.
The 2014 Icelandic Presidency: focus on masculinity
Iceland takes over the Presidency of the Nordic Council of Ministers from next year, during which time the Council will focus on labour market issues, men and masculinity as well as ways of removing border obstacles between the Nordic countries.
Do the statistics paint a true picture of youth unemployment?
There are considerable difference between the Nordic countries in their levels of youth unemployment and how long it lasts. But are some of the differences a result of the way in which statistics are gathered, and are Sweden and Finland really doing worse than any of the other countries in all aspects?
Sweden’s transport sector considers universally applicable collective agreements
The Swedish model is no longer strong enough. The transport sector is so troubled by unfair competition that we must consider introducing universally applicable collective agreements.
Women less penalised for part-time work than previously thought
Part-time work has few negative consequences for women in the Nordic region. New regulations have reduced the impact on pensions. A preschool teacher or enrolled nurse in Denmark or Norway who works part-time for ten years still receives 98-99 percent of the maximum pension.

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