Thursday

22nd Oct 2020

Workers' rights sour Swedish-Latvia relations

Swedish unions are in uproar following claims that a Latvian company won a tender to build a school outside Stockholm using underpaid Latvian labour.

The allegations concern the Latvian company, L & P Baltic.

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"This concerns the entire Swedish labour market. Every worker will be affected if dumping of Swedish salaries is permitted", said Erland Olauson from Swedish Trade Union Confederation (LO) after a meeting on Monday (29 November) dealing with the dispute.

The LO has close to two million members.

The Swedish trade union, Byggnads, an affiliate of LO, has blocked the construction work in Waxholm demanding that the Latvians are paid according to Swedish standards.

"We do not accept social dumping, which is competition on the lowest level of salary and working conditions", Mr Olauson said.

His position has been officially backed by the Swedish government.

On Monday, Minister of Employment Hans Karlsson declared that the Swedish system is in line with EU requirements.

The minister said, according to Dagens Nyheter, that Swedish rules are the same for all nationalities and it is up to the Latvians to decide what to do.

The Latvians argue that their workers are subscribing to Latvian labour market agreements and the government in Riga is considering involving the European Commission in the dispute.

The leader of the Swedish conservative opposition, Fredrik Reinfeldt, has been quick to pick up on the events by saying the whole affair was a "disgrace for the LO".

The project was won by the Latvian construction company in an open tender and in accordance with the rules, he argued.

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