New agreement on bargaining procedure in commerce and the service sector

On 29 August 1997, employers' organisations and trade unions for white-collar workers in commerce and the service sector agreed on new procedural rules for negotiations on wages and general terms of employment. The aim of the agreement is to create a basis for peaceful negotiations and responsible wage formation.

Inspired by the procedural agreement for industry signed in March 1997 (SE9703110N), employer' organisations and white-collar trade unions in commerce and the service sector signed a collective agreement on the procedure for bargaining on wages and general terms of employment on 29 August 1997. The employers' organisations were the Swedish Commercial Employers' Association (Sveriges Handelsarbetsgivare), the Swedish Service Employers' Association (Tjänsteföretagens Arbetsgivareförbund) and three smaller bodies, while the two signatory unions were the Salaried Employees' Union (Handelstjänstemannaförbundet, HTF) and the Swedish Association of Graduate Engineers (Civilingenjörsförbundet, CF). The agreement came into effect almost immediately, as the negotiations on wages for 1998 started on 16 September.

The aim of the agreement is to create a more effective bargaining procedure which diminishes the risk of industrial action. The parties also declare their joint ambition to assume responsibility for wage formation. To that effect, they have agreed on a range of rules that should lead to the conclusion of a new agreement before the previous one has expired. (Strikes and lockouts are forbidden by law as long as the "old" collective agreement is in force.)

The negotiations are to commence three months before the collective agreement runs out, at the latest. At the same time, the parties shall present their bids and designate a conciliation board with the task of acting as mediator and counsellor.

The parties shall negotiate for eight weeks, at the most. If they have not reached an agreement by then they can ask for the help of the conciliation board. If they still have not reached an agreement when seven days remain before the old agreement expires, either of the parties can ask the conciliation board to present a final bid within three days. If the final bid is not accepted by both parties they must ask help from the National Conciliator's Office.

Should the workers go on strike, they will have no right to retroactive wage increases.

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