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Assistant nurses need extra wage rises according to the union. Photo:  Leif R Jansson/TT
Assistant nurses need extra wage rises according to the union. Photo: Leif R Jansson/TT

First step in next year's wage negotiations

"It's unusual that some unions demand more than the industrial unions"
5:13 min

Monday sees a first step in next year's wage negotiations, as many trade unions and employers place their respective bids in the process that will settle the wages for 3 million employees.

Traditionally in Sweden, it is the trade unions from the industry that set the pace also for other unions. They have demanded wage increases at 2.8 percent for 2016.

The biggest trade union, Kommunal, organises a wide range of professions in the public sector, from health care professionals to school staff and maintenance personnel. Kommunal will also demand a 2.8 percent increase for its members - except for the approximately 150,000 assistant nurses, who ought to get some 1,000 SEK more per month in salary, according to the union. That will push up the total wage increase demand from Kommunal to 3.3 percent.

"We feel a strong support from members as well as the public and others that it is important to raise the wages for assistant nurses. It concerns what kind of welfare we want to have in the future and we want there to be educated assistant nurses. We want to raise the status of the profession and then you need to raise the salaries," Kommunal's chief negotiator Lenita Granlund told Swedish Radio News.

The union also wants to reach an agreement that will mean that full-time work is the norm. 

Swedish Radio's labour market reporter, Anders Jelmin, tells Radio Sweden that while it may seem like the unions are proposing more or less the same wage increase, there is a big difference.

"What is a bit unusual this time is that some of the unions demand more money than the industrial union, thereby challenging a norm that has been there since the 1990's," Jelmin says.

The employer's organisation SKL is hoping for a completely different kind of agreement, with no centrally set wage increase levels. According to Swedish Radio News, the employers don't want the wage increases to go above 1 percent. Referring to the big number of refugees that recently have arrived in the country, the employers also argue for keeping the lowest salaries where they are, as this would help those new to the labour market to get their first job.

SKL's chief negotiator Heléne Fritzon says it is too early to say whether there will be any extra money for the assistant nurses.

"We are now entering the negotiations and the starting point is that we should be in line with the private sector, and that is important in the discussions. Then we'll see what can be done within that framework for important professions, of which assistant nurses of course is one," Fritzon told Swedish Radio News.

Our journalism is based on credibility and impartiality. Swedish Radio is independent and not affiliated to any political, religious, financial, public or private interests.
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