The ITUC affiliates in Sweden are the Landsorganisationen i Sverige (LO), the Sveriges Akademikers Centralorganisation (SACO) and the Tjänstemännens Centralorganisation (TCO).
Right to strike
Ban or limitations on certain types of strike actions:
- Restrictions with respect to the objective of a strike (e.g. industrial disputes, economic and social issues, political, sympathy and solidarity reasons)
- The 2010 'Lex Laval' prohibits unions from pursuing a collective agreement by taking industrial action against an employer that posts workers to Sweden unless it concerns a matter specifically referred to in the posted workers legislation. Industrial action taken in pursuit of wages or working conditions will not be lawful if the existing conditions meet the normal minimum standards for the sector. Otherwise the right to strike is widely respected, including protection for sympathy strikes, though not for purely political strikes. The right to strike is normally tied to a collective agreement peace obligation (a no-strike agreement) but there are various exceptions which permit action to take place even during the lifetime of agreements.
Undue interference by authorities or employers during the course of a strike:
- Authorities' or employers''' power to unilaterally prohibit, limit, suspend or cease a strike action
- The State mediation service can intervene and may postpone action for up to 14 days in order to seek to resolve a dispute through mediation.
The Swedish Trade Union Confederation (LO), the Swedish Confederation for Professional Employees (TCO) and the Swedish Confederation of Professional Associations (SACO) report only incidental physical attacks on union members, and rare discrimination against union members. Other impediments to union activities, union members or workers are deemed incidental and rare.
LO observes the decreasing ratio of Labour inspectors to workers, which has risen to 16991 workers per Inspector. LO also observes the substantial increase in work accidents among young workers (17 per cent), relatively to the increase for all workers (2 per cent).
New legislative rules came into force in 2010 due to the conclusions by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) on the so called Laval case. These amendments of law entail restrictions in the right to take industrial action against all companies that post workers to Sweden. The most important restrictions are as follows. Firstly, the new legislation prohibits trade unions from trying to bring about collective agreements using industrial action on matters other than those specifically mentioned in the Swedish Posting of Workers Act, which derives from the EU-legislation by the Posting of Workers Directive.
Secondly, the agreement may only contain rules on minimum rates of pay and minimum conditions. The trade union organisations are prohibited from trying, with the help of industrial action, to reach agreements at a higher level than the absolute minimum level that exist in the central collective agreement in the sector.
Thirdly, the new statutory requirements mean that the trade union organisations are, in some cases, entirely deprived of the right to try to regulate working conditions through collective agreements achieved with the help of industrial action. According to the Swedish Posting of Workers Act, industrial action may not be taken at all if the employer shows that the workers’ conditions are in all essentials at least as favourable as the minimum conditions of a normal Swedish collective agreement within the framework of the Swedish Posting of Workers Act. This means that in these cases collective agreement free zones are created in the Swedish labour market, where it is only possible to conclude a collective agreement if the employer accept it voluntarily.