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Sweden – Temporary contracts create economic uncertainty, union says

19 March 2012

Precarious employment in the commercial sector is growing as permanent jobs are on the decrease said the Swedish trade union, Handels, today warning that temporary contracts could create economic uncertainty. The union is in the middle of a collective bargaining round, demanding more secure employment, which is “more important than ever,” said negotiation manager at Handels, Tommy Tillgren. The union also told Staffing Industry Analyst that it demanded tighter regulations when it comes to temporary employment to ensure workers will have more of a chance of finding permanent or full-time jobs.

The union has a particular issue with ‘precarious employment’ which includes short-term temporary work. Some employees are given a contract that will have them work as little as 5 to 15 working hours per week, something which makes them more vulnerable in a competitive job market. Particularly food retailers are making use of such contracts, the union said.

The union claimed that many companies in the commercial sector “routinely hire people on a contract [with] a few number of hours.” In its ongoing negotiations with the Swedish Federation of Trade, the union demands that such workers should be entitled to work full-time or increase the number of hours in their employment contracts.

Part-time jobs and the “insecurity of temporary contracts create economic uncertainty for the individual,” making it more difficult for such employees to further their career, the union said. It also cautioned employers not to “abuse” fixed-term contracts, saying that “part-time [work] should be an option and not a rule.”

But overall, Handels, one of the biggest trade unions in Sweden, said it was not against temporary employment as a spokesperson confirmed to Staffing Industry Analysts today. One of the main aims the union is pursuing in the collective bargaining round is to make flexible working more secure for the employee and increase the temp to perm transition rate in the industry. 

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