A Scandinavian collaboration icon falls? - the development of a dual building labour market in Sweden
Paper in proceedings, 2017
The Scandinavian welfare society model and its results has in the post second world war period been an icon beyond its geographical borders. Yet the model has also been exposed to continual challenges. In a construction sector context, the characteristics of peaceful collaboration, a productivity pact, well skilled and organized labour force, high level of work environment quality and enforcement, are all elements seen on Swedish building sites, and almost as prevalent as in other Swedish industrial sectors. In the recent years the construction sector has however seen an unprecedented influx of companies and work force, and they are contributing to what appears to be another labour market in Swedish construction. The aim of this paper is therefore to study these tendencies of erosion of the Swedish model labour market on a high level, and the emergence of another low level labour market. Theoretically the paper draw on industrial relations labour market studies, and concepts of dual labour markets. Empirically, a macro oriented approach is used, yet involving as much micro knowledge as possible. The study uses a host of sources. To address the low level labour market material such as reports on fatal accidents and police cases is used. The result of the analysis is that the high level labour market in Swedish is still strong. Existing and new institutions serve to maintain and adjust this market. However the low level market is emerging, not only on the private house market, but also at large infrastructure projects, impacted by companies working with lower pay, and worse conditions. Even the main public client are actively encouraging foreign companies to engage, to maintain a market competition on infrastructure. This leads to systematic poorer conditions managed through recruitment companies and other sub suppliers that places the phenomenon at a distance from the main contractor. Another type of intermediaries, union employees with foreign language skills, are a counter tendency. It is discussed whether the Scandinavian model can recast itself, to, not only counter the present developments, but also into a new integrative multicultural model, supporting the foreseen growth in the Scandinavian building sector.
Dual labour market