Employer and union leaders in commerce urge a three year "stabilisation pact"
Unions and employers should agree on a "stabilisation pact" with moderate increases in pay and a continuation of existing provisions in collective agreements until March 2000, according to an unusual appeal published by leading representatives of workers and employers in the commercial sector.
On 13 March 1997, the readers of Sweden's leading morning paper Dagens Nyheter learnt about an unusual appeal, drawn up jointly by the pugnacious chair of Handelsanställdas förbund (Commercial Employees' Union), the leaders of the two employers' organisations in commerce and the managing directors of three leading retail chains.
The leaders declared that they were ready to "bury the hatchet" and usher in a period of cooperation based on mutual trust in order to clear away the uncertainty concerning future pay levels, and urged all trade unions and employers' organisations to join them in a three year "stabilisation pact", which would give the politicians an opportunity to pursue a policy to reduce unemployment.
Most current collective agreements on pay and general terms of employment run until 31 March 1998. The authors of the declaration now suggest that all labour market organisations should enter into new agreements for the two subsequent years as early as spring 1997, which would provide for "moderate" increases in wages and salaries. In order for this to be achieved, the negotiations should be conducted without any complications. Existing provisions concerning other terms and conditions of employment other than pay should simply be continued.
The seven authors of the declaration claimed that such an agreement would create a unique period of stability and predictability for three years. It would enable companies to embark on long-term planning and permit a degree of certainty in political decision-making. It would also allow the labour market organisations enough time to reach the necessary long-term agreements on procedural rules for future wage negotiations.
In return, the authors expect the Government and Parliament to promote measures to stimulate demand. Such a scenario of three years' industrial peace would also make it possible for the Bank of Sweden to continue lowering interest rates.