Implication des Syndicats dans le semestre européen
Trade Union Involvement in the EU Semester


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National Reports

Vi anser inte man mot bakgrund av positiva tillväxtsiffror ett kvartal, antagandet av ett ekonomiskt ramverk samt en ny långtidbudget kan dra slutsatsen att Europa är på väg ur krisen. Vi tror inte krisen kommer att kunna lösas så länge kommissionen håller fast vid den förda politiken.
Vi har riktat kritik mot hur Kommissionen genom sina rekommendationer till medlemstaterna försökt att i grunden ändra maktbalansen mellan arbetsgivare och arbetstagare på arbetsmarknaderna. Medlemstater rekommenderas exempelvis montera ned förhandlingssystem, försvaga anställningsskydd, frysa eller sänka de lägsta lönerna. Det finns ingenting i tillväxtöversikten som tyder på att kommissionen är på väg att förändra den förda politiken. För oss är det viktigt att slå vakt om parternas autonomi och respekten för de nationella arbetsmarknadsmodellerna.
För att skapa ett socialt Europa med god konkurrenskraft behöver de nationella regeringarna bidra till att en acceptabel balans skapas mellan arbetsgivare och arbetstagare. Det är i sammanhanget anmärkningsvärt att ingen koppling i sker mellan å ena sidan inkomstklyftor, social stabilitet och tillväxt och å andra sidan förekomsten av kollektivavtalssystem med starka parter.
Tillväxtöversikten måste dessutom ses i en bredare kontext. Kommissionen presenterade nyligen inriktningen för det fortsatta regelförenklingsarbetet, Refit. Vi vill understryka att det är oacceptabelt att regelförenkling ger ett sämre skydd för arbetstagarnas liv och hälsa

Wage formation in Sweden is handled by the social partners and is thus not an object for discussion in our contacts with the government. For LO, TCO and Saco it is very important that we don´t get a situation where the European semester weakens our labor market model by giving the Swedish government or the EU an active role in wage formation.

All three trade union confederations have taken part in meetings with the government on a regular basis throughout the year. Trade union representatives together with employer organizations have met with the EU Minister, the Prime Minister and civil servants. The meetings have not had any direct influence on government policies. We would like to see more of a dialogue with the government on the issues discussed.

The Swedish social partners have compiled a number of activities that have been carried out during the year and that have contributed towards reaching the goals in Europe 2020. This compilation has been annexed to the Swedish National Reform Program.

The Swedish government has for the first time accepted the inclusion of comments by the Swedish social partners in the National Reform Program. The comments are included in the same annex as the compilation of activities. LO, TCO and Saco put forward comments on sustainable public finances, on private debt and on a smoother transition into the labor market.

Joint reply from LO Sweden, TCO and Saco

Implementation / impact of the CSR 2014 for your country

Sweden has not received any country-specific recommendations that directly address wage formation and collective agreements. Such recommendations are however not compatible with our national labour market model, where the social partners independently regulate pay and employment conditions.

Inputs for the next Annual Growth Survey

The crisis policy focus on austerity has undermined social partner models and collective agreements in labour markets. Fundamental trade union rights and freedoms have been violated. EU and its Member States have used the crisis as an excuse to ignore international agreements and ratified labour standards. Women's participation in the labour market has been undermined by the crisis policy. This development is highly unsatisfactory.
Member States shall not be encouraged to compete with each other in the internal market with lower wages and poorer conditions of employment. It is a devastating policy that harms workers and hampers economic recovery.
The protection of national collective bargaining systems, party autonomy and a reasonable balance between employers and employees is the best basis for creating a social Europe with strong competitiveness.
EU lacks competence on wages. The Commission must, within the framework of economic governance and crisis management, respect different national wage formation systems.
The social partners should be better involved in the policy work around the European semester, at both national and European levels.

This year, the Commission emphasises the importance of investments to a larger extent than before. This is positive. It is important that the proposed efforts are realised in areas which can increase employment significantly and reinforce overall demand in economy.

In addition, LO, TCO and Saco consider it positive that the Commission to a larger extent takes into consideration social aims. There are good structural reforms, and there are bad. To increase childcare facilities to increase labor force participation of women is a good structural reform. To further worsen unemployment benefits and sick pay are poor reforms that will further reduce demand and contribute to the economy is not taking off in Europe.

As previously, LO, TCO and Saco are strongly critical of the Commission’s lack of respect of the fact that wage formation is a national competence according to the Treaty. We consider that it is of great significance that the different national wage formation and collective agreement patterns are fully respected. Attacks against the national structures weaken collective bargaining systems and undermine wage-earners’ position.

Moreover, the Commission’s underlying standpoint seems to be that the steering of wage formation should be assumed by member states’ governments. This assumption is direct contradictory with the Swedish wage-setting model, characterised by considerable social partners’ autonomy without any immediate legislation in the field of wages. In addition, this assumption manifests the Commission’s lack of understanding that well-functioning collective agreement models create dynamics and flexibility.

LO, TCO and Saco are also critical of the Commission’s view concerning the distribution of the national wage margins. In the Commission’s opinion, the national wage margin should be distributed taking into consideration individual branches and companies’ competitiveness. This however is a policy that hampers the modernisation of economy and does not create sufficient growth potential in profitable companies.

In contrast to the Commission, LO, TCO and Saco consider that solid central structures for collective bargaining ensure that wage-formation creates the preconditions for growth combined with cost control. The far-reaching decentralisation of wage-setting, which seems to be the ambition of the Commission, risks to make it impossible to carry out cost control in an economic situation where there is great demand of labour.

In order to prevent further weakening of national collective bargaining systems, it is also important to safeguard employment protection. Solid employment protection also creates significant incentives for employers to invest in learning at work. LO, TCO and Saco are therefore critical of the wordings of the Commission concerning what is called modernization of employment protection.

To sum up, LO, TCO and Saco are critical towards central parts of the Commission’s planned measures in the context of the European semester as regards the field of the labour market. This applies particularly to the lack of respect of member states’ national sovereignty in terms of wage-setting. Apart from this, LO, TCO and Saco welcome the Commission’s proposal on increasing the importance of the social partners in the process.

Joint comment by LO, TCO and SACO

According to the report Sweden has one of the lowest wage dispersions in the EU, with high entry wages and little wage progression. Further the report stress that the compression of wages may prevent them from reflecting the productivity differentials between individual workers or sectors, thereby limiting the employment prospects of vulnerable groups with lower productivity.

Our view is that the cause of unemployment is not the low wage dispersion. Instead there is a need for substantially increased public and private investment to boost the economy. Further, the economy would benefit by increased wages to facilitate demand. Swedish trade unions have been quite successful in making sure that low wage sectors do not fall behind the general wage growth. This has contributed to a low wage dispersion and has proved to be an effective tool to enhance productivity growth and to combat poverty. The development of ”working poor” will not reduce unemployment. Instead such a development will trigger the need for subsidies and social welfare. Our view is that firms with lower productivity should be replaced by firms with better productivity. High entry wages and low wage dispersions has been an effective tool to stimulate such a development in Sweden. Europe needs to produce more advanced services and products. Low quality jobs is not the answer to the problems of our time.