Chapter 11: Negotiated Flexibility in Sweden: A More Egalitarian Response to the Crisis?
Dominique Anxo 1. INTRODUCTION The Swedish model is based on a strong political commitment to the goal of full employment (see Anxo and Niklasson 2006). In contrast to other EU Member States such as France and Germany, economic downturns and structural changes have seldom been accommodated by public measures aimed at maintaining employment and favouring labour hoarding, for example by reducing working time, short-time working or work sharing. Traditionally, employment adjustments in Sweden have taken the form of external numerical flexibility, combined with active labour market policy and relatively generous income support. In line with this tradition, when confronted by the severe deterioration of the situation in the labour market, and in order to mitigate the impact of the crisis on income development and employment, the Swedish Government in 2008–2009 implemented a package of recovery and countercyclical measures, ranging from expansive fiscal and monetary policy to active labour market and educational policy. The main objective of this chapter is to describe the patterns of employment adjustment during the current economic downturns and the role played by the Government and the two sides of industry in this adjustment process. The distinct feature of the Swedish industrial relations system and the contractual nature of labour market regulation create a favourable institutional environment for the emergence of negotiated compromises aimed at balancing flexibility and security. Sweden therefore represents a good illustration of a regime of flexicurity and negotiated flexibility, where the social partners are heavily involved not only in the shaping of...
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