LO's expectations on the Swedish foreign policy - a fairer globalisation and decent work for all

International issues The Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs has presented the government’s 2018 Statement of Foreign Policy - the last one by this government during its term of office. The government’s course of action has shown that the fact who is in charge of foreign policy is of utmost significance; a fact that the coming general elections in the autumn will clearly demonstrate as well.

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The government’s foreign policy orientation

Sweden is a relatively small country. However, owing to our Foreign Minister’s well-balanced strategy and determined fight for human rights, Sweden has developed into a key actor in international politics, with a prominent position in the UN Security Council. 

LO trusts that the present government’s foreign policy orientation will be continued and reinforced. We consider the following issues as being particularly important in the pursuit of a foreign policy that safeguards trade union rights.

Reinforce women workers’ rights

By its feminist foreign policy, the Swedish government has clearly shown the way and provided a model. LO is confident that the government will reinforce its international action in the field of gender equality. #metoo shows the urgent need for action against violence, offences and discrimination against women in all positions in working life. It is therefore important that the government clearly manifests its support to the new international Convention against gender-based violence in the world of work that will soon be negotiated within the ILO. It is also vital that the government follows up on LO’s demand that the ILO Convention No. 189 concerning the rights for domestic workers should be ratified.

Enhance Global Deal

The Global Deal initiative, launched by Prime Minister Stefan Löfven in 2015, aims at countering the negative effects of globalisation, such as accelerating income disparities, growing inequality and protectionism.  The Global Deal has been questioned by conservative politicians and some business sectors. However, now that over 75 actors have joined the Global Deal, it has reached a high level of legitimacy and its relevance can hardly be called into question.  Developing the social dialogue offers an effective means to combine high productivity with decent working conditions, which is the very essence of Global Deal. LO therefore expects that the government’s efforts for Global Deal will be prioritised and strengthened, by way of increased international ownership and by enabling workers all over the world to enjoy the positive effects of globalisation.

Urge more countries to recognise Palestine

The situation of Palestinian workers becomes increasingly precarious. Unemployment in Gaza is far over 40 percent and growth is very low, as a direct consequence of the occupation. People become increasingly desperate and the economy in Palestine is on the verge of collapse. The Swedish recognition of Palestine and support to the people of Palestine is of crucial importance in finding a peaceful two-state solution. LO expects Sweden to continue to urge more countries, not least within the EU, to recognise the state of Palestine.

Support trade union movements around the world

LO expects the government to continue and strengthen its support against violations of trade union rights around the world. At the present moment, union leaders from the Turkish trade union KESK are to be brought to justice. Trade union freedom movements are violently crushed in Iran, China, Algeria and other countries. LO expects the government to always be ready to defend the fundamental human rights in working life, such as the right to organise and the right to strike.

In the autumn, the elections will stand between a foreign policy that continuously acts for human rights, fair globalisation and decent working conditions, and on the other side - an unclear policy that risks to diminish Sweden's role in the world and can stem the fundamental work now launched for fair globalisation. LO is of the opinion that the right to increased democracy is always linked to the respect for trade union rights and decent working conditions. LO’s goal of gathering votes for a Social Democratic government is therefore even justified in view of foreign policy. Our demands and expectations will however remain high.