SWEDEN - Sweden's employers' confederation has threatened to cut the current ITP agreement for white collar workers if the trade unions do not respond to its latest proposal within weeks.
The Confederation of Swedish Enterprise (Svenskt Näringsliv) has proposed transferring the ITP occupational pension plan, administered by Alecta, from defined benefit to defined contribution.
A spokesperson for Alecta said the details of the latest proposal included an entrance age of 25 and a long period of transition, but with the possibility for employees to exit the old plan. Companies that sign a new collective agreement will only be able to enter the new plan.
Hans Gidhagen, negotiator and senior adviser on pensions at The Con-federation of Swedish Enterprise, said: “The employers would like to know their costs for the scheme and would like to have more flexibility in the scheme for mobility in the workplace.” He refused to confirm that the new entrance age was 25.
Under the current ITP plan, entrance age is set at 28 with the pension accruing until the age of 65. Employees must work for 30 years in order to receive a full pension.
Negotiations with the Federation of Salaried Employees (PTK) began in December 1994 and have been intermittent since.
Commenting on why negotiations have been so protracted, Gidhagen said: “The unions have had a problem with leaving what they think is a safety net that we have in the scheme today, where you have a guarantee on the pension. That is the big problem.
“Sudden death – putting an end to things – is always a possibility in negotiations to put extra pressure on, but of course we don’t want to have to do that, we would like our proposal to be accepted by the unions.”
The Alecta spokesperson added: “The ultimate ending of the negotiations is a new ITP-plan or a termination of the current collective agreement, which is a threat from the employer-side. Our role in a new plan is not determined.”
Alecta president Tomas Nicolin has in the past said that a new plan could see the firm opened up to competition, as individuals would have greater choice of pension provider.
Gidhagen said PTK was beginning to come on board as it was becoming increasingly hard to find new members to join the current ITP agreement.
However, he added: “There is no guarantee that we will succeed [in the negotiations]. We can withdraw the collective agreement but that could cause strikes and potential conflicts in the labour market, which is why we would like to reach a new agreement together with the unions.”
The proposal was put to the unions on February 15. A spokesperson for the employer’s confederation today said there were no further details on how negotiations were progressing.
PTK did not return requests for comment.
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