Après avoir présenté le fonctionnement des institutions politiques nécessaire à la compréhension du système suédois de négociation collective, l’auteur examine la réglementation statutaire propre aux relations du travail dans le secteur public de la Suède.
There is no doubt that, although strikes do occur in the Swedish public sector, bargaining in Sweden performs well in maintaining peaceful relationships between unions and public employers. The collective bargaining System procedures do not, of them-selves, explain or give a full understanding of the situation and the causes of the generally peaceful and stable labour relations in Swedish public sector. In fact, several factors are at work to create a climate of cooperation which is based mainly on a political determination to associate management and labour in the development of policies affecting workers and their work lives.
The relations between the Government and unions go well beyond the traditional bounds of the collective bargaining known in North America and often involve active participation in the preparation of statutory rules or legislations which in the case of state employees determine their status roles, responsibilities and conduct, protect their security and interest, and promote the social value of work. This cooperative approach is reinforced by the unions' structure, which is highly centralized and favours dialogue between the parties at the national level. Above that, the arrangement of public institutions, which is based on the separation of administration and policy, helps to "de-politicize" the negotiation process. However, such a System does not of itself guarantee industrial peace. Strikes that do occur show that a system based on social consensus has also its difficulties Reaching agreement on the distribution of income is not any easier in the Swedish system of labour management relations.
Before the right to strike was granted to public servants in 1966, agreements were facilitated by a policy linking public sector wages to those in export industries. Since 1966, the national labour organization (LO) succeeded in influencing the government in favour of greater equalisation of wages. This change has created dissatisfaction and subsequent labour unrest among many workers, especially white collar workers and professional. In general, however, state employees have at their disposal powerful means to protect and enhance their interests. They exercise an important and decisive role in the administration of public affairs, which contributes to their work satisfaction.
Three main factors underlying the relatively successful performance of the system are, first, the traditional support by the LO of the Social-Democratic Party, which was in power for over forty years; second, the deeply-rooted respect of political decisions and laws; and, finally, the restriction of bargainable items to mainly monetary issues. The future viability might be partially questioned with the recent defeat of the Social Democratic Party.
New initiatives will likely be taken by the new governing coalition which will affect the social organization of Sweden. Changes in wage policy, the representation and participation of employees in the various agencies, the roles of management and their relationship with the citizens might be expected. Collective bargaining in Sweden will certainly be disturbed. It is entirely possible that increased labour unrest and disruptions in public sector labour relations will occur.
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