GS Facket - Sweden negotiates COVID 19 agreement

20 March 2020 06:01

At the beginning of the week of 16 March, the Swedish government presented a crisis package on how to deal with the impact of the Coronavirus. A temporary system of short-term work was immediately introduced which the government said will be valid until the end of the year. 

The system will require companies to cut working hours and cut half the salary cost, while employees are allowed to retain more than 90 percent of their salaries. The state will pay three-quarters of the salary cost while the rest is split between the employer and the employee. 

However, BWI affiliates asserted that before the short-term work can be introduced in the workplace, social partners must negotiate an agreement. 

On Wednesday, 18 March, GS Facket (Swedish Union of Forestry, Wood, and Graphical Workers) signed such an agreement with its industry counterpart.

The Chairman of GS-Facket, who also serves as BWI President, Per-Olof Sjoo placed the agreement in a larger context, saying, “We do not have the same terrible situation as, for example, the hospitality industry. But we get many questions from both companies and members about how to handle the situation. We thought it was important to link the crisis package launched by the government on Monday with a central agreement that enables short-time work.”

He added that “If you can avoid a notice of termination and apply this agreement instead, it is much better.”

Ambet Yuson, BWI General Secretary thanked GS Facket for providing the information, and added, “although the traditions of negotiations and social dialogue are stronger in Sweden than in most other countries, this example, nevertheless, shows a very good example of a combination of a strong government framework and package with the flexibility and safeguards of negotiated agreements. This information will be useful for other affiliates.”