The Social Partners’ Council

The role of social partners

onsdag 15 april 2015

By tradition, the social partners in the Swedish labour market are relatively pragmatic and cooperate fairly well. The problems with the former arrangement for negotiations were well recognised by both the unions and the employers.

As a result of this, the social partners already had agreed on a strategy for abandoning pay scales in favour of individual and differentiated pay in 1989. In 1994, with the introduction of the Swedish Agency for Government Employers (SAGE) as an independent employers’ organisation, the social partners settled on a basic agreement setting up elementary rules for the new structure. Among other things, the agreement defined which social partners had the right to negotiate at the national level. This basic agreement has remained valid over time and is one of a very few where changes still have to be approved by the Government.

In the year 2000, the social partners reached another milestone when they concluded an agreement stating that they have to call for mediation before putting industrial action into force.

Since 1994, the role of the social partners has been strengthened as the Government no longer interferes in the social dialogue. The employers form their employer policies on local agency level and jointly through SAGE. Negotiations are held at national, local and sub-local levels. Many of the national agreements provide the framework for local agreements.