Swedish unions oppose labour reform laws

08 June 2020 05:42

GS Facket, BWI’s Swedish affiliate of wood and forestry workers, called on the social democrat-led government to condemn to the legislative dustbin the results of its so-called independent investigation on proposals to reform the country’s labour laws.  

The union said that the government directed the investigative body to maintain the balance of interests on the reform proposals. However, last week, the proposed reforms shifted the power in the labour market in favour of the employers. The union said that the proposals deepened economic insecurity at a time when more and more workers are seeking economic security and protection.  

GS Facket President and BWI President Per-Olof Sjoo said that a January agreement between stakeholders has already stated that while the labour law must be modernized, it must maintain a "fundamental balance between the social partners.” He said that it is obvious that the reform proposals would deal a historic blow to the balance in the labour market. 

“The proposal may bring the most significant shift in power in the Swedish labour market in modern times. It is tragic that this is being pushed when the need of workers for security and stability is greater than ever. We must do everything in our power to prevent this from becoming a reality,” Sjoo said. 

The proposed labour reform laws allow companies to deviate from the “last in, first out” principle, permitting them to randomly dismiss up to 5 workers (from the current maximum of two). Age will also not be considered on dismissals, leaving senior workers vulnerable to termination. Unions may also lose their power to stop dismissals. 

“We should focus our time and energy in assessing the current Swedish labour market which was battered by COVID-19 and find ways to shape employment protection for the future. Best suited for this task are the social partners. However, we cannot do this, if our members' job security and the power of unions are threatened,” Sjoo said. 

The Swedish Confederation LO has launched a petition to stop the proposed labour reform laws. BWI affiliates have expressed their support for the said initiative.