New strike threats over pension agreement

2:22 min

Three more trade unions threaten to strike as the negotiations with the employers broke down on Wednesday.

Members of the white-collar union Unionen, the telecom union SEKO and the Swedish Association of Graduate Engineers will go out on strike on the April 18 if no agreement is reached before then.

The negotiations crumbled as the employers and the unions could not agree on pensions. The unions want something known as flex-pensions, which means that money that otherwise would have gone to pay rises is redirected so that people who are reaching the end of their working life can work less but still receive the same pay. If you instead continue to work full-time, the unions want you to get a higher pension.

According to Niklas Hjert, head of negotiations at Unionen, a majority of the employers organisations have agreed to this, but the employer Almega is not one of them.

"We have reached an agreement on flex-pensions with all the other employers, which means that more money is put towards pensions. This is necessary because pensions are going down as people live longer. We have exhausted all possibilities to solve this at the negotiating table with Almega, and that is why we have been forced to give notice about a strike," Hjert told Swedish Radio.

Anna-Karin Hatt, CEO at the employers organisation Almega says she regrets the step taken by the unions but that they could not agree to their pension demands, as Almega prefers a more individually tailored pension.

"There must be an individual count so each individual can decide if they want to use their own salary to pay towards their pension, or if they prefer to take that out in salary instead," she said.

For the telecom union Seko, there is also disagreement over whether travelling time shall be included into the working hours, as well as the level of the lowest paid jobs in the sector. All together more than 10,000 employees could go on strike of no agreement is reached before the deadline.

Previously, the painters and builders unions have given notice that will go on strike next week unless an agreement is reached over their pay. Meanwhile, over the weekend the trade union and the employer organisation for retail business did manage to come to a settlement.