Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Ratio Working Papers,
The Ratio Institute

No 349: Industrial conflict in essential services in a new era – Swedish rules in a comparative perspective

Nils Karlson ()
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Nils Karlson: The Ratio Institute, Postal: The Ratio Institute, P.O. Box 5095, SE-102 42 Stockholm, Sweden

Abstract: This paper examines whether the Swedish regulatory system of dealing with industrial conflicts that affect essential services need an update or reform. Are the existing rules effective in a world where many essential services are upheld by many interdependent agents in complex systems where every single node becomes critical for the functioning of the system, and where the essential service activities could be either private or public? A comparative study is conducted with the corresponding regulatory systems of the United Kingdom, Germany, and Denmark.

The conclusion is that Sweden is a special case. The Swedish protection against and readiness in dealing with societally harmful industrial conflicts in essential services is weaker than in the countries of comparison. Just as in relation to other threats to essential services, it is not sustainable to claim that just because such a threat is not currently present, there would be no need for preparedness.

There are many alternative ways to handle this. Desirable methods should both prevent harmful conflicts from erupting and end conflicts that have grown harmful to society at a later stage. The labour market organisations should have a mutual interest in reforming the rules.

Keywords: industrial conflicts; essential services; complex systems; comparative study

JEL-codes: J50; J51; J52; J53; J58

36 pages, June 29, 2021

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