Sweden: Flexible pensions – a key issue in the 2016 bargaining round

The issue of flexible retirement schemes (in Swedish) has become one of the hottest topics for white-collar workers in the 2016 bargaining round.

Flexpension or flexible retirement, means that higher retirement appropriations are made for all employees and those employees in their sixties have increased possibilities to reduce their working time. The trade-union Unionen has demanded flexible pensions in its collective agreements since 2013 and since then, 38 out of the union’s 50 or so agreements include a flexible retirement scheme.

Unionen is one of the organisations that have announced its readiness to take industrial action (in Swedish) in order to reach a deal that includes flexible pensions and has begun preparing its members for possible strike against companies supported by the employers’ association Almega (among which Unionen has more than 100,000 members). According to a representative from Unionen, the flexible pension is necessary because of the ‘hollowing out’ of the regular pension. In order to receive a high enough pension, people will have to work for longer. But while many white-collar workers are prepared to prolong their working life, they say they will not be able to if they cannot also reduce their working hours.

Almega, however, is critical of the flexible pension system having previously argued that the scheme would be too expensive for employers, giving companies that choose not to sign a collective agreement a comparative advantage (in Swedish).

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