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An arbitration award delivered on 11 April 1997 has decided that blue-collar
employees who are members of trade unions affiliated to the largest union
confederation, the Swedish Trade Union Confederation (LO) will face a
reduction in sick pay entitlement.
In April 1997, the Norwegian Supreme Court found the Government not guilty of
abusing compulsory arbitration in order to stop industrial conflict. The
Federation of Offshore Workers' Trade Unions (OFS), which brought the
domestic lawsuit against the Government, lost on all counts.
Pay for 15,000 newspaper distributors has been increased by SEK 2.75 per hour
retrospectively from 1 January 1997 and by SEK 0.45 from 1 August 1997,
according to the new collective agreement between the Swedish Publishers'
Association and the Swedish Transport Workers' Union. The agreement runs for
one year. A novel feature of the agreement is that employees from now on have
undertaken to distribute periodicals and other items of mail together with
the newspapers. The employers have thus achieved one of their important
With 270,000 persons either on early retirement, unemployed or otherwise
excluded from the labour market, theSocial Democrat-led Government is anxious
to involve the social partners in producing workable alternatives for job
creation for these groups of workers, rather than simply paying lip-service
to the idea. In the 1995 collective bargaining round, the social partners
were invited to elaborate on social clauses in their collective agreements.
Accordingly, 90% of the bargaining units in the are covered by the LO trade
union confederation and DA employers' confederation agreed on what have
become known as "Social Chapters", which contain framework provisions on job
creation on special terms of employment - ie, content of work, working hours
and pay - to be negotiated and elaborated upon at local and company level.
Similarly, the bargaining parties in government employment agreed on Social
Chapters in their 1995 collective agreements. Employees in local government
at regional and municipal level were also covered by a framework agreement
negotiated in May 1996.
The President of the French Republic's decision to dissolve the National
Assembly and to call early legislative elections in May-June 1997 has
prompted numerous reactions from the unions, which fear the beginning of a
shift towards liberal economic policies.
At the end of March 1997, Ericsson Telecom (part of the Swedish Ericsson
Group) workers in Norrköping learned that their employer had made a
preliminary agreement with two US companies, SCI Systems and Solectron, to
sell the production of printed circuit cards part of the business. The
company wanted the sale to take place before the summer.
HK, the largest affiliated trade union of the Danish Confederation of Trade
Unions (LO), with 357,000 members, has launched a two-month image and
recruitment campaign. DKK 4 million will be spent on newspaper advertisements
and bill boards, which will be followed up by local initiatives. The campaign
will aim to improve recruitment and visibility, initiate debates on
objectives, and explain the utility value of being a member.
A new pay award announced in April by the Agricultural Wages Board (AWB) for
England and Wales after two days of talks, gives farm workers a minimum wage
of GBP 4.12 per hour. The AWB is the only wages council - setting statutory
minimum pay rates for a particular sector - left in the UK after the rest
were abolished in 1993 (UK9703112F ). When the Conservative Government was
originally looking at abolishing the wages councils in 1986, the proposal was
delayed because employers were not in favour of them being abolished, as they
at least set some minimum floor of standards with which employers could work.
The case for this was made most strongly by agricultural employers, and this
was why the AWB was left in place after 1993.
In its bill, presented to Parliament on 15 April 1997, the Government states
that the policy of austerity which has been in operation for last few years
has been so successful that it is now possible to focus more on its most
important goal - to halve the rate of unemployment to 4% before 2000.