LO chairman Karl-Petter Thorwaldsson
work and education

Unions back government job plans

The blue-collar union federation LO endorsed on Tuesday a centre-right government proposal aimed at getting more young people into work, in return for the end of higher fees for unemployment insurance. But some unions do remain hesitant, Swedish Television (SVT) reports.

Nearly one in four people under 25 are jobless in Sweden. To get at that problem, LO has been in talks with businesses and the government over a proposal that subsidises one fourth of young employees pay if they start studying parallel to their work.

They would then work 75 percent and study the rest of their time, with the state compensating the drop in pay.

"An important step between high school and employment is missing, and we hope to introduce it this way," LO chairman Karl-Petter Thorwaldsson tells SVT. "If everything is agreed, things will be in place by the first half of 2013."

Thorwaldsson says it will be up to LO to ensure that the agreement will not result in a drop in salaries.

Many unions, traditionally left-leaning, were sceptical to approving the centre-right government's proposal, but agreed to do so since the ruling Alliance parties said they would consider scrapping differentiated fees for unemployment insurance.

The fees, which were changed by the government in 2007, have been higher for insurance funds in sectors with higher unemployment. Unions say that means employees struggling to find jobs are hit the hardest.

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