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Collective Bargaining

The key level for collective bargaining in Sweden is the industry level, although more than 90% of employees have part of their pay determined by local level negotiations, and 8% have all their pay determined locally. The overall level of coverage of collective agreements is high – estimated at 90%.

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Workplace Representation

Employee representation at the workplace is primarily provided by the union representatives, or elected representative if there are no union representatives, rather than through statutory structures. Legislation gives union representatives the right to be involved in so-called “cooperation negotiations” in companies and other organisations with 20 or more employees. (The employment threshold was reduced from 30 in 2007.)

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Financial Participation

There has been a debate about workers’ financial participation in Sweden since the 1960s. The incidence of participation schemes is above average by European comparison.

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Health and Safety Representation

Safety representatives, who are normally appointed by the union, should be present in all workplaces with at least five employees in Sweden. They have the power to halt work if there is an immediate and serious threat to health. A joint safety committee should be set up in larger workplaces and the Swedish system also provides a network of regional safety representatives, usually union officials, who can intervene where there is no safety committee.

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European-level Representation

Swedish members of bodies linked to European Works Councils and the European Company are – in line with Swedish practice elsewhere – appointed by the local unions the company negotiates with.

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Trade Unions

The level of union membership in Sweden is high – at 71% – although it has fallen from its peak of 86% in 1995. There are three main union confederations, LO, TCO and Saco, which are divided along occupational and educational lines in line with the traditional way in which Swedish employees are grouped, and there is considerable co-operation between them.

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Board-level Representation

Employees are represented on the boards of almost all companies with more than 25 employees (Sweden has a single-tier board system.) There are two or three employee members and they account for around one third of board members in most companies. They are chosen by the union and are generally the key figures in a whole range of employer-union relations.

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Key Facts

Population5,401,267
Collective Bargaining Coverage 91%
Proportion of Employees in Unions 74%
Principal Level of Collective Bargaining

industry – but much left to company level negotiations

Workplace Representation

union

Board-level Representation

yes: state-owned and private companies

Company Board Structure

monistic or dualistic

Sources: see individual country sections; where a range of figures has been quoted, the lower number has been taken

Key Facts

Population9,482,855
Collective Bargaining Coverage 88%
Proportion of Employees in Unions 70%
Principal Level of Collective Bargaining

industry – but much left to company negotiations

Workplace Representation

union

Board-level Representation

yes: state-owned and private companies

Company Board Structure

monistic

Sources: see individual country sections; where a range of figures has been quoted, the lower number has been taken

Sweden  Sweden