Do all professions go on strike?

There are no restrictions on which professional groups can go on strike or engage in other industrial actions. However, in some cases, a strike can become a threat to society and therefore not allowed. This primarily applies to certain industries or areas, such as healthcare or emergency services. If they do not go to work or do not perform all their tasks, it could have significant consequences for society as they have an essential function. The question of whether the strike can be deemed a threat to society is primarily discussed between the trade union and the employer, but if they cannot agree, the matter can be referred to a central board that will make the decision. For a strike to be considered a threat to society, it must unduly disrupt important societal functions or pose a danger to people's lives or the risk of permanent health problems. If the board determines that the strike is a threat to society, it cannot be carried out.

Can public sector employees go on strike?

In addition to the limitation regarding a strike that may endanger society, public sector employees have certain restrictions on their right to take industrial action. According to the Public Employment Act (1994:260), only certain industrial actions are allowed: lockouts, strikes, refusal of overtime work, or new employment blockades. In other respects, the public sector can take industrial action in the same way as other sectors.

Is it common to have strikes?

Despite the right to strike or take other industrial actions, Sweden has fewer widespread strikes compared to other Nordic countries. The Mediation Institute keeps statistics on lost workdays due to industrial actions, and Sweden has fewer days than many other countries. It varies from year to year and depends on the collective bargaining process, and some years stand out. In 2012, there were approximately 37,000 lost workdays, while in 2021, there were only 11.

In summary

  • All occupations have the right to strike, but strikes that can cause a threat to society are not allowed, especially in essential sectors such as healthcare and emergency services.
  • Public employees have certain limitations in their actions according to the law, but are otherwise allowed to strike like other sectors.
  • Sweden has fewer strikes compared to other Nordic countries, and the number of lost workdays due to industrial action varies from year to year.

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