CBA = Collective Bargaining Agreement
After having produced quite a lot of written material lately regarding the Klarna/Spotify CBA conflict I’m seeing patterns in the kind of questions that are being asked. I have to re-iterate that you should first and foremost contact your own union to get answers to these questions. But I will add the generic portions of the answers below, as in “this is how the Swedish labour market and law works”, because I feel like the average understanding of how things are designed in Sweden needs a boost 💜
Wanna read the fact-checked version of the Klarna pamphlet? Look no further, here it is 👇
The Nov 7th strike
- Who will go on strike Nov 7th?
The unions Unionen and Sveriges Ingenjörer have announced the strike. That means that their members, first and foremost, will go on strike. But all Klarna employees have the right to join the strike, whether they’re members of the mentioned unions, members of other unions or not union members at all.
It’s worth adding here that strikes and strike notices are common place on the Swedish labour market. And the right to go on strike (as a means to put pressure on the employer to negotiate/compromise) is protected by the Swedish constitution. Furthermore, 91% of all employees in Sweden are covered by CBAs, so Klarna and Spotify are the odd ones out, not the other way around.
- Do I have to go on strike?
No, but if you are a member of the two unions announcing the strike you are expected to, this is one part of what it means to be in a union. It is literally the foundation of “the Swedish model”, and how we negotiate terms on the labour market in Sweden. Going on strike is the employees/unions most powerful play when the employers refuse to compromise/negotiate. It’s a right we’ve historically fought dearly for in Sweden (with our lives!) and not to be taken lightly.
For completeness I’ll also add that breaking the strike is not illegal, but there might be consequences if you are a member of the two unions who announced the strike. You might for example lose your membership. But honestly, repercussions from unions against strike breakers is rare. And no, you will not end up on some “black list” among unions like Klarna’s CEO Sebastian Siemiatkowski is claiming on X/Twitter (although he since deleted that ludicrous tweet).
- What happens to my salary during the strike?
During a strike the employer will not be paying salaries to employees on strike. This is when it becomes important to be a member of a union, because for this type of situations all unions have a so called “strejkkassa” (strike/conflict fund). All members of Unionen and Sveriges Ingenjörer will be compensated by the unions for their loss in income. This is done by reporting to your union that you will be going on strike. The unions will then communicate with Klarna which employees should have their salaries docked and instead be compensated by their union.
In other words, Klarna asking you to fill out a form stating whether you’ll go on strike or not, is _illegal_ and akin to political affiliation registration (🇸🇪 åsiktsregistrering). Do not sign that form!
If you want the exact amount you’ll receive from your union’s conflict fund you have to contact your union directly. But just as a hint, Unionen mentioned they had a conflict fund of 9 billion SEK when asked by Aftonbladet back in April this year.
If you’re not a member of a union you have the right to join the strike, but will not be compensated by employer nor union. However, if you join either union now you might be eligible to receive strike compensation, that depends on the waiting period for each union. Contact them asap to find out.
- Can there be repercussions for me from Klarna if I go on strike?
No, the right to go on strike is protected by the Swedish constitution. If Klarna were to penalize you as an employee in _any_ way for going on strike they’re in violation of the Swedish constitution.
Having said that I know that a lot of you are keeping quiet at Klarna right now, and that you are rightfully worried. In May 2022 Klarna deliberately targeted 5 out of 9 Unionen club representatives with exit packages. If that doesn’t send a clear signal about how Klarna deals with pro-union folx, I don’t know what does. But here’s the kicker, there’s strength and safety in numbers. Because if you show up for each other, you’ll be so strong in numbers that Klarna simply can’t afford to penalize you in any way. Remeber YOU are Klarna, you make that place run. Claim your seat at the table!
Collective Bargaining Agreements + the local Unionen club
- I didn’t vote for the representative in the Unionen club. I don’t want them to represent me.
If you’re a member of Unionen, why didn’t you vote? Were you hired at Klarna after the current local Unionen board were elected? In that case, have you no faith in your fellow Klarnaut who elected them? This works just like regular elections, employees at Klarna (who are Unionen members) are nominated for seats on the local club, the members of Unionen at Klarna then vote to decide who should represent them. It’s your right as a Unionen member to cast your vote, since I don’t know why you didn’t, answering the underlying concern of this question is hard.
And to clarify, Unionen is one out of several unions currently represented at Klarna, and also currently the biggest one and as far as I know the only union with a local club. Other unions with members working at Klarna are: Sveriges Ingenjörer, Akavia and Finansförbundet to mention a few. So perhaps you’re conflating Unionen with the word union?
- Could a CBA potentially negatively impact the competitiveness of Swedish companies on a global scale? Is it worth considering the perspectives of these industry leaders who are driving the economy?
I’ll start by adding some facts and context:
> 91% of employees on the Swedish labour market are covered by a CBA. So claiming that Klarna and Spotify are driving the Swedish economy is a stretch, to say the least. It also means that Klarna and Spotify are the odd ones out, not the other way around.
> Furthermore, Klarna and Spotify aren’t even on the “Top 10” list of the biggest Swedish companies, neither when looking at revenue, employee count, or estimated market value.
After Klarna’s last nosedive, the valuation dropped to 67 billion SEK. And Spotify recently lost 70% of it’s market value, making its current market value around 35 billion SEK.
AstraZeneca, arguably Sweden’s biggest company, with 83.000 employees globally and $44,351 million in revenue 2022, has a market value of 2 329 billion SEK. Number 2 on that list, ABB, has a market value of 736 billion SEK. Other companies on that list are: Atlas Copco, Volvo, Nordea, SEB and H&M to mention a few.
You wanna know what all these large internationally successful and competitive companies have in common? You guessed it, a collective bargaining agreement. And last I checked they were all doing pretty darn well. So no, I don’t think there’s cause for concern regarding a CBA negatively impacting Klarna’s competitiveness.
- As an individual, I can negotiate better terms for myself than a union ever could.
Ok, once again for the people in the back:
a 👏 collective 👏 bargaining 👏 agreement 👏 introduces 👏 a 👏 floor
It introduced a bare minimum which the company has to adhere to. It does not introduce a ceiling or a cap. Meaning, you are free to negotiate your way to whatever added perks and benefits Klarna is willing to part with. Go you!
But also, just so you know. Even without a CBA Klarna looks at the national CBA negotiations happening every 3 to 5 years and basically copy pastes the salary budget from those negotiations. So it’s rather naive to think Klarna is completely de-coupled from what the other 91% of the labour market are doing. And just so we’re clear, there’s nothing stopping Klarna from offering more than the floor set by the CBA.
And also, out of curiosity, what extra perks have any of you managed to negotiate for yourself outside of the pre-packaged deal at Klarna? Do any of you have extra vacation days? More wellness contributions? Bigger lunch compensation? An extra day of Smoooth Week? I’m genuinely curious.
Because even with a CBA in place there’s always room upwards for individuals to negotiate. So go go go! I’m rooting for you! 🚀
- With a CBA I would lose the freedom to invest my pension as I see fit. How is that better?
I’ve written at length about this on my site #FinancialLiteracy, so please have a read here:
> The power of union bargained occupational pension
> Union bargained ITP pension just got even better!
> How fund managers are scamming you out of your profits
TLDR: The fees you get via a union bargained pension scheme (like ITP1) are lowest available (lower than anything you can get on the open private fund market). And with the power of compounding interest (see this post specifically: https://financialliteracy.se/how-fund-managers-are-scamming-you-out-of-your-profits/) fees combined with historical and future performance is what makes or breaks an investment.
Union bargained pension trustees are re-negotiated for ITP1 every 5 years. Only the best trustees (lowest fees + best historical performance) are chosen. And you get access to this goodness simply by working for a company with a CBA. How effin brilliant is this?!