Paper industry agreement reached after conciliation

Every full-time employee will receive SEK 230 more per month as a result of the new collective agreement for blue-collar workers in the paper industry, signed on 6 February 1997. In addition, a further 1.1 % of total paybill will be allocated through company-level negotiations.

On 6 February 1997, theSwedish Paper Workers' Union and the Employers' Federation of Swedish Forest Industries told the conciliators Lars-Gunnar Albåge and Rune Larson that they accepted their proposal for a national collective agreement on wages for 1997. There had been two stumbling blocks in the negotiations: the trade union's claim for a reduction of annual working time by 25 hours; and the employers' insistence on an agreement that would run for at least two years. The outcome is an agreement on wages only, that runs for one year, backdated to 1 January 1997.

The agreement opens with a statement that explains the basis of the settlement.The parties note that the low rate of inflation (0.7 % for 1996, estimated to be 1 % for 1997) has made increases in real wages possible. At the same time, costs in the forestry industry are developing alarmingly in relation to the price of paper. The parties then refer to the talks that are proceeding between the central confederations of employers and trade unions, the aim of which is to find new ways of setting wages, that will not put employment at risk nor increase inflation. They conclude that the agreement for 1997 must comply with these ambitions.

In concrete terms, this means that every full-time worker will receive SEK 230 more per month. In addition, the parties at company level have 1.1 % of the total payill at their disposal, to allocate according to the basic principles for wage-setting set out in the sectoral agreement. The local parties will negotiate under a peace obligation and if they are unable to reach an agreement, they can turn to their central organisations, which in turn can hand the matter over to a special Arbitration Board, whose decision is binding. This bargaining procedure is a novelty.

The Paper Workers' Union and the Employers' Federation of the Forest Industries were the first to arrive at a national agreement in 1997. In most sectors the collective agreements run till 1998.

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