Sweden Sees Sharp Rise In Number of Working Days Lost to Strikes

February 20: Around 7,500 working days were lost in Sweden last year due to industrial action, breaking a years-long trend towards fewer conflicts.

The exact figure of 7,527 is a big increase from the 50 working days lost to strikes and lockouts during 2018, and also up from the 2,570 days lost in 2017. 

Major conflicts between both port workers and SAS pilots and their employers led to the high figure, according to the annual report from the the National Mediation Institute.

“We had two rather large conflicts last year and that’s quite a lot when there were no big wage negotiations like we have this year,” the institute’s general director Irene Wennemo told Sveriges Radio

Last year, only 20 new collective bargaining agreements were signed, whereas this year, 500 are set to be re-negotiated. That means almost three million people in Sweden will get new collective bargaining agreements due to negotiations between trade unions and workplaces, which could cause further industrial action. 

On average, Sweden has lost 21,000 working days per year due to industrial action over the past decade. However, a major 2008 strike by a healthcare workers’ union, among others, which contributed to 106,801 lost workdays that year distorts the average.

Compared to other European countries such as not only France and Italy but also neighbours Finland, Norway, and Denmark, Sweden has a comparatively low strike rate.

One reason is the fact that the Mediation Institute must be informed if unions are considering strikes, which means that conflicts can often be resolved by mediation first and that industrial action is taken usually as a last resort.

Source: The Local

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