The Swedish Trade Union Confederation calls for a stop to violations of trade union freedoms and rights in the EU


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The Swedish collective agreement model is based on strong and independent social partners. The regulation of wages and employment conditions through collective agreements develops in the course of negotiations and compromises between trade unions and employer organisations. This assumes that the state has confidence in the social partners. Together the social partners take responsibility for development of the labour market.
EU cooperation is important for Sweden and the Swedish Trade Union Confederation. Developments in the EU have, however, entailed difficulties for the Swedish collective agreement model. The European Court of Justice ruling in the Laval case is a watershed. The Laval judgment has made it more difficult to defend terms and conditions of pay and employment in collective agreements. EU law has been used for the purpose of creating wage competition between workers. The Laval judgement increased the imbalance between the EU economic and social dimension.

This imbalance has been further exacerbated by the economic crisis that is now shaking the EU, particularly the monetary union. Crisis measures have had serious consequences for trade union freedoms and rights. Attacks on the right of association and negotiation in the crisis-torn countries are an attack on all our rights. We note with great concern how collective agreements, employment security and welfare systems are being broken up. Democratic values are being undermined and social peace threatened.

Europe is in a time of upheaval. The consequences of the Laval judgement and the crisis policy being pursued show the necessity of strengthening protection of trade union freedoms and rights. The Swedish Trade Union Confederation and the entire trade union movement therefore demand that a social protocol be appended to the EU Treaty. When fundamental trade union freedoms and rights and economic freedoms collide, the first-mentioned shall take precedence.

The Swedish Trade Union Confederation Congress resolves as follows:

To demand the application of Swedish collective agreements in the Swedish labour market. That all workers, regardless of origin, be treated equally. That the social partners’ freedom to independently regulate terms and conditions of pay and employment shall be respected,

To express solidarity with our fellow European trade unionists for fundamental trade union freedoms and rights. That the protection of freedom of association and collective bargaining, including the right to take industrial action, must be strengthened in the EU.

To demand that EU’s political leaders and institutions respect fundamental trade union freedoms and rights when countering the crisis.

To demand that a social protocol be appended to the EU Treaty. Fundamental trade union freedoms and rights shall not be subordinate to the EU’s economic freedoms. In the event of conflict trade union freedoms and rights shall have priority. If a social protocol cannot be realised, it will be necessary for the Swedish Trade Union Confederation to require a legally binding exemption for the Swedish collective agreement model.

To urge the Riksdag (Swedish parliament) to promote the addition of a social protocol to the EU Constitution. The Swedish Trade Union Confederation assumes that there is a broad consensus in the Riksdag for defending the Swedish collective agreement model.