Employers back out of agreement on employees' security in redundancies

In June 1997, private sector employers gave notice of termination of the "adjustment agreement", the purpose of which is to help employees in the event of collective redundancies. The unions regard the notice as a severe provocation.

On 17 June 1997 the Swedish Employers' Confederation, (SAF), gave notice of termination of the "adjustment agreement" with PTK, a negotiating cartel of 27 salaried employees' unions. The agreement thus runs out on 31 December 1997.

The purpose of the adjustment agreement is to help salaried employees - and also their employers - in the event of collective redundancies. All employers covered by the agreement must pay 0.35 % of their total paybill to a fund. The money is used for redundancy payments and for measures that can help the employees to obtain new employment or to start their own businesses. In return, the unions have been assumed to agree on derogations from the order of priority laid down in legislation for redundancies ("last in, first out"), if this is needed in order to improve the company's productivity, profitability and competitiveness.

The adjustment agreement is one of the very few collective agreements to which SAF is still party, after it backed out of the centrally coordinated negotiations on wages and general terms of employment in the late 1980s. The organisation has not yet revealed why it has given notice of its termination. PTK regards it as a severe provocation, suspecting that the employers want to handle these questions at sectoral or even company level, now that the Act on Security of Employment has been changed so that local trade union delegates are authorised to agree on derogations from the order of priority in redundancies without permission from their central union (SE9702101F).

A spokesperson for the employers stated that the move should not be seen as a provocation: "It is quite possible that we may enter into a new agreement of some kind again, but perhaps we want to modify something in the present settlement. So why not negotiate on it now?".

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