VaxholmAnyone who vaguely follows EU politics may have heard of the so-called Vaxholm case, a dispute between 2 Swedish trade unions and a Latvian firm that was carrying out work in Sweden and not respecting collective wage bargaining agreements there. The issue cuts at the heart of the Nordic labour market model, where agreements between employers and trade unions form the basis of how wages are set. Unlike most of Europe, there is no minimum wage set by law. The problem is however that this approach is in stark contrast to how the EU works – it’s a very law and rule based community (although some would say that adherence to those rules is lousy at times – but that’s another story). I very much suggest reading this overview by Eric Sundstr√∂m, explaining why this matter is important.

If the ECJ case goes against the Swedish unions, the implications for the labour markets in Denmark, Finland and Sweden will be huge, and this at a time when the Nordic model is being used as an example in other European countries of how to combine an efficient economy and social protection.


  1. Anders… I think this response is a typical emotive reply in the context of Swedish party politics. Be glad that there is even a Stockholm rate and rates elsewhere – look at the mess in East Germany due to set rates across the country.

    While I cannot agree with the union’s tactics, the essential point still remains. Sweden finds itself in this situation where the very informality of its arrangements cause a problem. In the UK, the minimum wage would have applied and hence you would not find such a problem (but the workers would be exploited more in the UK most probably).

    The case – like it or not – will have a major impact on collective agreements and the Nordic labour market system. Let’s split the individual specifics of the case from the impacts it might have.

  2. Anders

    You are wrong Jon. The case is about whether or not the union was allowed to put company under siege!

    They where paid an average wage in sweden but the union demanded that it should be the average in stockholm plus they got free housing and food.

    The swedish union where standing the construction site shouting “go home”. I seriosly doubt that that has anything to do with collective agreements and every good european should realise that!

    Swedish social democrats and unions are using this to protect their votes but not their voters!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *