Measures proposed by LO to meet the effects of COVID-19
Labour market LO union members have the right to the best possible protection against infection, good financial security in the event of illness and unemployment, and an active policy for growth and jobs.
In the spring of 2020, in response to the pandemic, LO proposed several measures to protect Swedish workers (Memo LO’s proposed measures to meet the unemployment crisis). Several of these proposals have been fully or partially implemented by the Government and Riksdag. LO places particular emphasis on the good opportunities for short-term lay-offs that existed during 2020, the additional resources for the welfare system, the temporary improvements in unemployment insurance and the extensive expansion in the number of places in education.
Sweden is currently marked by extensive spread of infection, heavy strain on healthcare and a large death toll. Many of the occupational groups organised by LO affiliated unions are in the front line in fighting the pandemic and keeping society going. LO believes that it is of the utmost importance that the vaccination that is now under way is effective and fast. The groups that are in most need of the vaccine must be prioritised.
During the autumn there has been strong recovery in the Swedish economy, not least in the Swedish manufacturing industry. However, the situation of companies and workers operating in close contact industries1 has continued to be tough and is now becoming more difficult during the second wave of the pandemic.
Unemployment increased sharply in Sweden during the spring. The increase slowed after the summer. But long-term unemployment has continued to rise.
In this memo, LO presents a number of proposed measures. Our proposals have three different focuses:
- The focus in the coming months, until the vaccine has been rolled out on a broad front, must be to minimise the number of cases of illness and death, while at the same time allowing companies and workers in close contact industries reasonable opportunities to overwinter the crisis. Appropriate conditions applicable in the event of sickness or risk of infection are important both for financial security and for reduced spread of infection.
- When the pandemic abates, the Swedish economy needs to be kick-started through broad investments in welfare, digitalisation, energy and infrastructure.
- To prevent unemployment from becoming entrenched at a high level, a broad programme needs to be launched with everything from an education and training obligation for people with a short-education to vocational change for people already established.