LO Negotiating Secretary on report from National Mediation Office

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Lowest number of conflicts for decades
The National Mediation Office, an agency for central government activities in the mediation field, submitted in the middle of February the report “Statistics on Conflicts in 2007”. The LO Negotiating Secretary, Erland Olauson, comments on the report:

- It is only to agree with the National Mediation Office that the Swedish wage formation system continues to be successful. The report shows on paper that Sweden is among the European countries with the lowest number of conflict days.

- The challenges of the wage negotiation rounds not yet concluded, but which had their absolute focus in 2007, were significant. (The collective agreements in Sweden are usually of two or three years’ duration). The non-Socialist Government, elected in the fall of 2006, with a policy obviously directed against broad groups of wage earners and their trade union organisations caused mass demonstrations and widespread rage. The stock exchange displayed all time high and top dividends. Furthermore, there were record profits in trade and industry, and a generous surplus within the public sector. Unfortunately, the exposure of certain chief executives’ greediness also continued which further reinforced the wage earners’ discontent.

- Under these circumstances, the demands of nearly three million wage earners were to be met. Thanks to accurate precision as regards the calculation of the margins of wage increases and determined co-operation on behalf of the workers, the wage negotiation round of 2007 can be considered as almost devoid of conflicts.

- The outcome was real wage increases without adventuring Sweden’s competetiveness. The wages of the workers are well within the margins of the Swedish economy’s capacity. We have even succeeded in our striving for obtaining somewhat higher increases within contractual sectors with low wages and a high number of women. We have thereby made an important move towards more equal wages in Sweden.

- You have to retrace several decades in order to find a wage negotiation round with fewer conflicts. Those who try to portray the Swedish trade union movement as too much inclined to resort to industrial actions, are evidently not serious.