The collective agreement is a lovely invention, probably the best since sliced bread. This claim is constantly repeated by trade union representatives as well as ministers.
There is no end to the blessings that come with collective agreements. They make the worker strong, proud and safe and they’re a symbol of a climate where enlightened employers gladly pay anything to get the job done exclusively by Swedish workers. The best is good enough and a merry future awaits us all. Can you hear the violins?
Incidentally collective agreements also help solidify the unique power of the trade unions. It’s quite simple really. The persons negotiating for millions of members are trusted with a lot of power and they won’t give it up. In fact, they’re actively consolidating their power base by sponsoring the Social Democrats who in return provide favorable legislation whenever requested. I scratch your back and so on.
The most astounding aspect of collective agreements is that they’re so flexible. Not only do they constitute a backbone in society. They can also – get this! – easily be broken whenever the union folks feel like doing so. A wildcat strike makes life more fun and if you'd expect an iota of critique from the very same persons constantly promoting the value of collective agreements you’d be dead wrong. A minister wouldn’t bite the hand which feeds him.
This unhealthy power concentration has prevailed for decades, it’s nothing new. Apparently, we’re not able to rid ourselves of this. If a non-socialist government would appear it can look forward to nothing but hostility from the unions. But there is hope on the horizon. The EU is examining the techniques Sweden uses to exclude foreigners from our labor market.
Meanwhile, don’t mess with Facket.