Sweden: the government backtracks on sustainable agenda

Solidarity work in Sweden is currently under attack. The government’s enormous cuts in development aid, civil society organisations and trade unions are forcing LO to find new ways of funding its work in the field of international cooperation and sustainable development.

Trade unions are key actors of development and drivers of the 2030 Agenda. Therefore, to consolidate workers’ efforts towards reaching the targets of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly Goal 5 on gender equality, Goal 8 on sustainable growth and decent work, and Goal 10 on reduced inequalities, LO has produced the report Global Union Outlook. The report provides an overview of the world in 2023 from a trade union perspective. It shows that workers worldwide have common interests. An attack on one country’s trade unions is an attack on democracy and workers’ rights globally. Therefore we must work together, in solidarity. Hopefully, this will be a useful reading for everyone interested in international solidarity.

Workers and climate

In the face of climate change, the workplace has emerged as a crucial arena for driving sustainable practices. A dedicated tool for climate action is essential to harness the collective power of employees and trade unions in the fight against environmental degradation. By raising awareness, setting measurable goals, providing actionable strategies, cultivating a green culture, and enabling monitoring and reporting, such a tool can pave the way for a more sustainable and resilient future.

Therefore, as a means to empowering sustainability and achieving Goal 13 on climate action, LO has developed trade union tools for local climate action to undertake and set goals for local climate action in the workplace.

Decent work and democracy

Goal 8 is severely tested as democracy and the “Swedish model” are challenged by corporations who think that they can behave and treat workers however they please. LO and its affiliates believe that Swedish wages and working conditions should apply to all workers in Sweden. There is only one way to guarantee receiving collectively agreed wages, wage increases, pensions and working conditions, and that is through trade unions signing a collective agreement with the employer.

In the pursuit of decent working conditions for all, LO ,together with our global colleagues, supports the Swedish Metal Workers (IF Metall) in their struggle against Tesla to reach a collective agreement. You can read more about how Swedish workers have been standing up against Elon Musk’s notoriously anti-union stance here and here, and about the latest update on the strike now potentially expanding to charging stations here and here.

In conclusion, Sweden’s strong forces are actively working against the strides made in the past towards reaching the goals of the 2030 Agenda. Multinationals challenge national labour laws, and the government is lowering its climate actions through increasing emissions, cutting on development, and hampering civil society organisations’ and trade unions’ capacity to contribute to achieving the SDGs. Moreover, this government wants to instill its modus operandi throughout the European Union. In response to the government’s EU Declaration, LO’s EU-coordinator Karla Wixe has written this piece about the risks of opting for trade-centred politics that challenge the right to strike and shift away from a human-centred sustainable development.