Sweden’s tech workers launch push for union deal with Spotify

Three of Sweden's leading white-collar unions have sent a formal request to the Spotify music streaming service, calling on them to start negotiations over a collective agreement.

Sweden's tech workers launch push for union deal with Spotify
Spotify's headquarters in Stockholm. Photo: Magnus Hjalmarson Neideman/SvD/TT

Engineers of Sweden, Unionen, and Akavia submitted the request to Spotify on Wednesday, April 12th, saying that they hoped to strike the first collective agreement with the company “as soon as possible”. 

“Spotify’s technical solutions have revolutionised how sound is consumed. Now it’s high time for the company to break new ground as an employer by signing a collective agreement,” Ulrika Lindstrand, president of Engineers of Sweden, said in a press statement

She said that the increased influence for employees and opportunities for collaboration with the relevant unions would be positive for the streaming service’s business, strengthening its ability to handle difficult business changes and take on challenges. 

“This is our second negotiation request in the tech industry in a short time. It is both a way to extend a hand and at the same time give a clear push in the right direction,” Lindstrand said. “More fast-growing technology companies need to take the step and join the Swedish model of employee participation. Now is the time.” 

Ulrika Lindstrand, chair of Engineers of Sweden. Photo: Engineers of Sweden

Under Sweden’s Co-Determination in the Workplace Act, or Lag om medbestämmande i arbetslivet (MBL), companies are required by law to start negotiations over a collective bargaining agreement as soon as possible after receiving a request. 

In the press release, the unions said that the agreement would apply only to the company’s employees in Sweden, both at its offices in Stockholm and in Gothenburg where a large proportion of the company’s Swedish engineers are based. 

The approach to Spotify comes two weeks after the same three unions submitted a request for collective bargaining to the payments company Klarna. Public formal negotiations have not yet begun with Klarna. 

Spotify in January announced plans to reduce its global workforce by about six percent, which Martin Linder, the chair Unionen, told the Dagens Nyheter newspaper had led to increased interest in a collective agreement among the company’s Swedish workforce. 

“We are convinced that the Swedish labour model is fundamentally a competitive advantage for Swedish companies and not a handicap,” he said. “We hope to be able to convince Spotify about that.”

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Sweden raises work permit salary threshold by over a thousand kronor

Statistics Sweden has released fresh median salary figures, effectively pushing up the work permit salary threshold for all new applicants.

Sweden raises work permit salary threshold by over a thousand kronor

On November 1st last year the minimum salary that applicants need to earn in order to be eligible for a Swedish work permit was raised to 80 percent of Sweden’s median salary. At the time the median salary was 34,200 kronor a month, giving a salary threshold of 27,360 kronor.

But in an update on June 18th, the median salary was pushed up to 35,600 kronor. 

This means work permit applicants (including both first-time applications and extensions) applying on this date or later will need to earn a total of 28,480 kronor a month in order to qualify for a work permit.

The median salary is announced in Statistics Sweden’s yearly updates, so it changes every year.

Salaries also need to be in line with industry standards or collective bargaining agreements to qualify for a work permit.

It’s the most recently published median salary at the time of your application (not the time of a decision) that will determine how much you need to earn in order to be eligible for a work permit, so the new figure will not affect work permit applications which are already in process, but it will affect any new applications or renewals submitted on or after June 18th, 2024.

Are there any plans to raise the salary threshold further?

Yes. The government plans to raise the work permit threshold for new permits to 100 percent of the median salary at the time of application, with exemptions for some categories of workers. 

This is currently going through the consultation stage (remiss) of the legislative process, which means it is not yet a firm proposal. If it does go ahead, the proposed starting date is June 1st, 2025.

There would be a one-year grace period for work permit renewals: the current rule (80 percent of the median salary) would continue to apply for any applications for extensions submitted to the Migration Agency by June 1st 2026 at the latest.

Do you have any questions for The Local about Sweden’s work permit salary threshold? Please comment under this article and we’ll try to help.