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I assume this is the source you used: http://www.thelocal.se/17936/20090302/

During the corresponding time period, companies can arrange skills training. In cases where that isn't possible, workers will be released from their employment to a corresponding degree,"

Most people would call this a cut in working hours, not a cut in wages.

Most unions does not have a millitant attitude against cutting working hours in times of crisis.

Any proof of this being a "historic shift" in swedish labour union attitudes will have to include evidence that swedish labour unions have always opposed these kinds of measures before. I will be surprised if this was so. But feel free to prove me wrong.

by Trond Ove on Wed Mar 4th, 2009 at 09:20:14 AM EST
Good point on cut in working hours, not cut in pay/hour. Though training is somewhat a grey area as training during workhours (not un-paid, in addition to) is common in Sweden. I know for a fact that Metall has locally entered into this type of deals before, though I think the scale of it is new.

To further clarify, this is the Metall union deal. They organise anything related to metallproduktion. The Paper union - organising paper mill workers - has rejected a similar deal.

Though it is big enough that other unions, like the forestry union and the printers union has come out to say that they reject the notion of it:

"Vi gör en annan bedömning" "We make another assessment"
"Vi gör en annan bedömning än fack och arbetsgivare inom verkstadsindustrin". Det skriver Grafikerna och Skogs- och Träfacket i ett gemensamt pressmeddelande rörande IF Metalls krisavtal."We make another assessment then unions and employers in the engineering industry." This writes the Printers union and the Forestry union in a joint press release regarding IF Metall crisis agreements.
Meddelandet skickades ut i dag. Det beskriver fackens syn på dagens kris som, enligt dem, inte beror på för höga kostnader (löner till exempel) för företagen. Problemet är snarare brist på efterfrågan.The message was sent out today. It describes the trade union view on the current crisis, according to them, not due to too high costs costs (like wages for example) for the companies. The problem is rather a lack of demand.
I det läget hjälper inte sänkta löner, menar facken. De pekar också på regeringens ansvar för den ekonomiska krisen.In this situation it does not help with lowered wages, says the unions. They point also to the government's responsibility for the financial crisis.


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by A swedish kind of death on Wed Mar 4th, 2009 at 09:44:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Most people would call this a cut in working hours, not a cut in wages.
That's what I said.

Most unions does not have a millitant attitude against cutting working hours in times of crisis.
That's - also - what I said. Or well, I said industrial unions. The unions who are not exposed to international competition are freaking out completely. Let me quote an official from the Transport union: "The employer want to kill us [literally "beat us to death"] and our highest union management today has joined in and killed us..."

I shit you not. Some of these people are batshit insane.

It becomes even more tasteless when one consider what this is about: solidarity, sharing the available jobs during the crisis of the century. It's the same principle that supports our solidaric high-tax welfare system: everyone skips desert to make sure the least productive member of the family gets enough food not to starve to death.

But when these people are the ones who might have to skip the desert, solidarity is thrown in the bin.
 

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Wed Mar 4th, 2009 at 05:45:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Have management and equity holders taken their haircut yet? They're the first to grab the money and run when things are going well - they should be the first to take haircuts when the going gets tough. Otherwise, you're privatising profit and socialising risk.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Mar 5th, 2009 at 11:58:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm certainly not.

Supply must be reduced, and you either do that by reducing the workforce by 20 % or you reduce the working hours of the workforce by 20 %. Those are the alternatives here.

And I hardly think you want your management to work 20 % less during the crisis of the century. That they are often grossly overpaid is another issue.

And the quity holders not taking a haircut? Have you by any chance noticed how share prices have developed since the crisis began?

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Thu Mar 5th, 2009 at 03:31:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No, that management are grossly overpaid is precisely the issue. The management is effectively a class of "super duper equity holders" in that they get all the upside when things are good, and - so far - none of the downside when things go sour.

The justification, in the capitalist system, for downturns is precisely that it forces overpaid and underproductive parts of the political economy - and these days, the most obviously underproductive and overpaid part of the political economy is the management class - to take a haircut. If this haircut fails to materialise, then capitalism isn't working as advertised.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Mar 5th, 2009 at 04:17:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I am not aware of any law of physics that says that a 20 % reduction in output must be accompanied by a 20 % reduction in payroll. Since there is unemployment, that's purely a distributional question: Who gets to take the haircut. So far, it's workers and - to some extent - equity holders. Management has been exempt, as have bondholders.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Mar 5th, 2009 at 04:21:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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