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New Swedish council to defend collective bargaining

| Text: Kerstin Ahlberg, editor EU & Arbetsrätt

In light of the European Commission’s many recent legislative initiatives in the social policy field, the Swedish private sector social partners have joined forces to fight for their common interests on an EU level.

On 1 October the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise, the Swedish Trade Union Confederation LO and PTK – the council for negotiation and cooperation for private sector salaried employees – established Arbetsmarknadens EU-råd – “the Labour market council for EU affairs”.

Through theLabour market council for EU affairs, the organisations will work towards presenting joint standpoints in order to protect the position of collective bargaining and the Swedish model when the Commission is taking legislative initiatives on an EU level. Such initiatives have been increasing in volume since EU heads of state and government adapted the so-called Pillar of Social Rights in 2017. The Pillar as such does not come with any binding rules, but the Commission has proven to be determined to translate its principles into proposed legislation. 

There is also pressure coming from strong forces within the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) – sometimes in direct opposition to what the Swedes really want.

These initiatives put increasing pressure on the Swedish collective bargaining model, the partners argue. At the start of the year, as the Commission presented its proposed directive on transparent and predictable working conditions in the European Union, it emerged that the trade union confederations and the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise shared a very strong opposition to the proposal. Now they are formalising a collaboration aimed at protecting the social partners’ autonomy and contractual freedom.   

TheLabour market council for EU affairs will meet to work together at least four times a year, or when any of the partners ask for a meeting. Work within the council should be built on  consensus.

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