Swedish teacher unions have come to an agreement on 24 September with local employers concerning a much deserved wage increase, narrowly avoiding a strike.
Successful negotiations between trade unions and teachers’ employers
Two of EI’s national affiliates, Lärarförbundet and Lärarnas Riksförbund, worked together in negotiations with the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions, speaking with one voice for the 200,000 teachers employed by the 290 municipalities in Sweden. After 252 days of intense work in collective bargaining, lobbying and mediation, an agreement was reached during the last week of September.
The two unions were demanding a wage increase of 10,000 more kronor (Euro 1,100) a month for teachers in the long term, an amount equal to those with the same level of education in the labour market. The negotiations spawned positive outcomes, and teachers will receive a wage increase by 4.2 per cent this year.
Making the teaching profession attractive
“This collective agreement is the first step towards making the teaching profession more attractive, but we are far from satisfied,” said Lärarförbundet’s President and EI Vice-President Eva-Lis Sirén.
Sirén went on to assert that “long term investments in school are needed. There is a national teacher shortage looming and we need funding to improve learning conditions and school quality for all pupils and students.”
“We now have an agreement in place which means that we can start re-appraising the profession – and this is crucial if we are to change the negative spiral in our schools,” added Lärarnas Riksförbund’s President Metta Fjelkner.
EI supports its affiliates in their endeavour to ensure fair and equal working conditions for teachers in Sweden and sees this achievement as a positive step towards reinvigorating the teaching profession.
Decent remuneration for teachers
In support of the two unions’ efforts, EI General Secretary Fred van Leeuwen stated: “it is imperative that we advocate for both the teachers of today as well as for those of tomorrow—we must make every effort towards attracting and retaining the best and most committed individuals to the teaching profession. That includes ensuring that teachers today receive the fair and competitive pay that they deserve for their socially-crucial work.”