Under common law, Ford v. A.U.E.F. , , the courts found once that collective agreements were not binding. Second, the Industrial Relations Act, introduced by Robert Carr (Minister of Labour in Edward Heath`s office), provided in 1971 that collective agreements were binding, unless a written contractual clause indicated otherwise. Following the fall of the Heath government, the law was struck down to reflect the tradition of the British labour relations policy of legal abstention from labour disputes. Some collective agreements refer to the general relationship between an employer or employer organisation and trade unions. These agreements generally address issues such as participation, negotiation procedures and the definition of common objectives related to future labour market developments and employers. Agreements are generally reached between federal employers` organizations and their central union counterparts at the federal level with the above themes. The Swedish Association of Industrialists is bound by thirteen collective agreements. Seven of them are employment contracts.
The Industrial Workers` Union Metall is the opponent in five agreements, Pappers (The Swedish Paper Workers Union), GS (Swedish Union of Forestry Workers, Wood and Graphic Designers) in one and SEKO (Union of Service and Communication Employees) in two. The Swedish Association of Industrialists is also bound by four collective agreements for employees. The counterparties to this agreement are the employee unions Ledarna (the Swedish organisation for managers), Unionen and Sveriges Ingenjurer (Swedish Federation of Graduate Engineers). In addition, the Swedish Association of Industrial Employers` Organisations is bound by a collective agreement that includes both blue-collar and white-collar counterparties that exist in the same agreement with Pappers (The Swedish Paper Workers Union) as a worker`s equivalent. Collective agreements are signed for certain periods, usually two to four years. A collective agreement is mandatory for both the employers` organization and its members, the union and its members, on the other. In addition, a collective agreement is generally also in practice, if not theoretically, for individual non-unionized workers and unionized workers who belong to a union other than the union that are part of the collective agreement, provided that (i) the worker works with collective agreement tasks and (ii) that the union to which the worker is affiliated is not bound by another collective agreement with the employer.