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Nordic Management Labour Relations and Internationalization

Converging and Diverging Tendencies

image of Nordic Management Labour Relations and Internationalization

An important query for the book Nordic ManagementLabour Relations and Internationalization is whether there has been any convergence towards the American or AngloSaxon neoliberal model for managementlabour relations or not, model which is rather hostile to corporative industrial relations in general and trade unions in particular. The result, however, is that although private and public management have introduced different flexibility reforms and international human resource management (HRM) models in all Nordic countries, the strong managementunion cooperation has remained relatively intact, both centrally and locally. Contrary to many other countries unions and employees have often been positive to competence development, participation and flexible assignments, which were part of unions' codetermination policy of the 1970s aiming for workers to act as equal partners. The book covers different aspects and themes of the global influence on Nordic working life: ­ A theoretical introduction to convergence versus divergence regarding industrial relations and Nordic managementlabour relations; ­ Influence of international HRM policies in Nordic multinational companies and on national IR systems studied in four chapters: in Norway; in Sweden; in Malaysia and Singapore; in European Works Councils; ­ Flexibility strategies and consequences for industrial relations in Sweden; ­ Individualization of salaries in the Danish public sector; ­ Industrial relations and occupational health and safety; ­ Increasing malefemale employee difference regarding IR strategies.

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From Centralized Self-regulation to Organized Decentralization: Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) in Sweden 1940–2002

In November 2001, the Swedish government initiated a tripartite dialogue between the State and the main labour market parties with the purpose to encourage better health in working life. This was part of a comprehensive governmental 11- point programme presented in the autumn Budget Bill, including measures for better work environment and more clearly defined responsibilities for the employers (Näringsdepartementet 2001). The aim of these talks, which were concluded in December 2002, was both to initiate a broad co-operation on the prevention of work-related bad health and to make measures for rehabilitation of workers already on sick-leave. The background was the dramatic increase in long-term sickness absence since the late 1990s. The governmental reform programme included other means as well: for example, a reinforcement of the Labour Inspectorate, grants for the training of regional safety representatives and considerable grants for trials to reduce incidence of poor health in the public sector, which had the highest rate of work absence due to illness. According to the government, better health and safety in working life were crucial for future economic growth, employment and welfare. This was not only because of the huge public expenditures on sickness benefits, but also due to an increasing shortage of labour in many trades, partly as a result of the rapidly rising rate of long-term sick-leave, even among younger employees (SOU 2002, no. 5; Dagens Nyheter 13 November, 2001, 16 April, 2002; Nilsson 134-44).

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