Steel workers in North Sweden agree to first crisis deal

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Three parties: Christer Ågren at Swedish Enterprise, Tobias Baudin at blue-collar union LO and Veli-Pekka Säikkälä at the metal workers' union IF Metall. Photo: Scanpix, montage by Swedish RadioHours reduced, salaries up

Workers in Sweden’s northern town of Luleå have agreed to temporary pay cuts and shorter hours in a deal between the steel manufacturer SSAB and the metal union IF Metall, with the latter having u-turned on short-term crisis deals, Swedish Radio reports.

In 2009, 350 businesses entered crisis deals with their employees in order to cut costs but save jobs. A few months ago, IF Metall opposed a return to similar deals, but has now reconsidered.

“The difference is that this is not a salary cut. The workers have reduced their hours to 80 percent, but their salaries are at 90 percent,” says Veli-Pekka Säikkälä at IF Metall.

The union sections in Borlänge and Oxelösund have to agree to the deal before it becomes official.

The business confederation Swedish Enterprise sees more crisis deals coming, and even the blue-collar union federation LO is positive towards the development.

“The pay per hour has been kept high, so I think they have handled the situation pragmatically and responsibly,” said Lo’s vice chairman Tobias Baudin.

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