The Social Partners’ Council

The scope for social dialogue

onsdag 15 april 2015

The Employment (Co-Determination in the Workplace) Act gives social partners across the Swedish labour market the right to negotiate and conclude agreements on wages and other working conditions.

For the central government administration, the basic agreement identifies who the social partners are and regulates that the social dialogue is kept within the range of conditions related to staff and human resources management. Political matters regarding the tasks of central government administration, economy and priorities between duties are neither included on a national nor local level.

There are national agreements regarding general working conditions, pay policy, work environment, transition and job security, pensions, cooperation between local social partners and more. Some of the national agreements, which provide the framework for agreements at the agency level, are mandatory (for example transition and job security and pensions) and others are discretionary (for example wages, working conditions, work environment) and provide the framework for local agreements. The right to take industrial action is closely coupled with the national agreement on wages. As soon as a national wages agreement is reached, peace between the concerned social partners is stipulated for the agreement period.

The ongoing movement towards agreements that are more adapted to local operational circumstances, individual employer needs and particular working conditions has transformed demands on the local social partners from both sides.

The Swedish Agency for Government Employers (SAGE) reaches national collective agreements on wages and other working conditions with each of the three Swedish trade unions in central government administration; Saco-S, Seko and OFR/S, P, O. The original agreements were almost identical, but are currently developing in diverse directions, with different scopes for the local agreements at the agency level. While Saco-S, like the employers, prefers national agreements with no stipulated wage increases, Seko wants to maintain a more traditional wage-setting approach with minimum wage increase levels. OFR/S, P, O has taken a position in between. Since wages for each employee is set locally, a single employer has to handle at least two of these national agreements that provide the framework for negotiations between the local social partners. Even though this system with different agreements is cumbersome for the employers, they have chosen this model in order to continue modernisation of wage formation.

Other local, non-wage related agreements are normally set jointly by all of the local social partners.
The social dialogue also includes national agreements about joint ventures between the social partners. Most importantly, there are three such joint ventures: