LO programme for an alternative policy to combat the crisis

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LO General Council adopted on May 12th a programme for an alternative policy to combat unemployment. The LO crisis programme includes demands for a more expansionary fiscal policy, reinforced unemployment insurance, drives to abate unemployment among young people, drives for older jobless persons and a new adult education initiative.

The members of the LO affiliates will remain very exposed during the years to come. The security systems have been dismantled significantly and the Government’s non-ability to act makes that the wage earners’ share of the costs of the crisis become exorbitant. Active measures are needed if Sweden is to master the crisis and the jobless are to return to working life when the recession turns, Wanja Lundby-Wedin, LO President, says.

LO is of the opinion that it is unreasonable that restrictions on expenses and budget targets, adopted before the recession, are to constrain the economic policy in a crisis which is seriously hitting employment.

LO wants the unemployment insurance to be reinforced. The ceiling of compensation rates ought to be raised and the compensation level ought to be 80 per cent for everybody during the whole period when it is paid out. The individual fee should be set at such a low level that everybody can afford it and wants to be affiliated to the insurance. The distribution of the costs of the unemployment insurance must become more equal and display more solidarity; the so-called unemployment fee should be revoked. LO also wants substantial improvements of the unemployment insurance for those working part-time, both as regards the number of days and the conditions of compensation.

In order to strengthen young adult persons’ positions in the labour market, drives for both the education policy as well as the labour market policy are required. A new and temporary adult education initiative ought to be introduced in order to raise the level of education among many young people and at the same time to avoid high unemployment among young people. The problem with young people being devoid of work life experiences should be solved by offering jobseekers apprenticeships of good quality. The social partners ought to shoulder the responsibility of providing good-quality apprenticeships. As older jobless people often are without work during long periods of time, and as this group constitutes a great unutilized supply of labour, it is necessary to introduce generous economic wage subsidies, which are time-limited, for employers to recruit for older persons.

LO wants to introduce a temporary education initiative, which is not part of the labour market policy programme, for adults during two years. Alternatives to the financing of studies must be introduced in the form of a special study assistance for adults (in line with the unemployment insurance or the activity support) so that people have reasonable possibilities to support themselves. LO is also of the opinion that society should offer training assistance to employees so that Sweden does not lose competitive production capacity and skills during the crisis.