Sweden

The ITUC affiliates in Sweden are the Landsorganisationen i Sverige (LO), the Sveriges Akademikers Centralorganisation (SACO) and the Tjänstemännens Centralorganisation (TCO).

In practice

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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.

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