General matters – Financial crime – Contribution from the Swedish Trade Union Confederation LO, Malmö – 18-20 juin 2001

HRCT

11th TRADE GROUP
CONFERENCE
Malmö, 18-20/6/2001

Item 8: General matters

Financial crime – Contribution from the Swedish Trade Union Confederation LO

The brochure on economic crime published by the Swedish Trade Union Confederation (LO) states that it is primarily the authorities – police, public prosecutors and courts of law – that must come to terms with criminal activities, but that it is also a trade union issue : “Economic crime affects our members seriously and ruthlessly in many ways. Therefore we take a strong interest in fighting this type of crime.”

In the hotel and restaurant sector, economic crime consists mainly of tax evasion: sales and salaries are not reported. Young and immigrant employees in particular are exploited by this system, and they pay a high price, in the form of:

* Insecure employment terms

* Involvement in illegal activities

* Low wages – higher health hazards

* No safety net in connection with dismissal, illness or accidents

Another serious effect of economic crime is that competition between companies is unfair. Those who do not pay taxes and charges and offer bad employment conditions gain an unfair advantage over law-abiding companies.

Tax crimes also undermine the social security system and the labour market insurance system that was developed thanks to the charges and taxes paid by employees, employers and consumers.

In order to combat economic crime, a number of measures are proposed with regard to:

1) Legislation:

2) Improved public monitoring:

3) The standards we set for ourselves:

Legislation

Demand that your employer (or main contractor) reports and pays taxes and social charges on all work that is performed on behalf of the company.
Uphold a strong employee concept, thus making it harder for employers to evade collective bargaining agreements by turning employees into sole enterprisers.
Create a more distinct connection between the income that is declared and the assistance that can be obtained from society.
Clarify that a person who reports his or her employer for an economic crime is effectively protected from losing his/her job. Dismissal should only come in question if it is a case of intentional harassment.
Protect those who report their employer for an economic crime against harassment, by introducing a duty for employers to report objective reasons for any extensive decisions made by management.
Strengthen the position of sole enterprisers vis-à-vis their principals, so that they are not forced to take assignments at such low prices that it encourages economic crime or wage dumping.
Try out a system of licence fees in one or two sectors, so that a lowest level of payment for taxes and other charges is established.
Give the tax authorities the right to demand that employers report on a monthly basis which employees the withheld preliminary taxes relate to, and the size of these amounts.
Introduce an obligation for sellers and/or buyers to receive and retain receipts.
Introduce a requirement that all cash registers are of an approved type.
Make it a legal requirement that all businesses keep the cash register journals as a basis for accounting.
Introduce an ownership register for all limited companies.
Make it easier to ban a person from running a business.
Prohibit people who are banned from running a business from representing a legal person or other enterprises in their business through power of attorney.
Make it a criminal offence to use fronts or decoys, so-called general power of attorney or similar instruments.
Demand that board members and managing directors of limited companies have a knowledge and understanding of what is required of them in order to fulfil their assignment.
Allow trustworthy credit information companies to access information about sentences that have gained legal force and orders of summary punishment relating to economic crime, and to disclose this information during a limited number of years.
Work for a tightening of the EU directives on public procurement with regard to the demands that can be made on a supplier of goods or services.
Within the EU, demand that all EU member states introduce public and effective rules for registering a company, and the possibility to check if companies pay their tax and other charges.
Within the framework of the EU, work for greater consideration to be taken to the aspect of economic crime within the EC legislation on competition.
Implement the proposal for company fines immediately, so that crime within businesses is punished tangibly in practice.
Ease the secrecy rules between public agencies in cases where it constitutes an obstacle to fighting against economic crime.
Improved public monitoring
Stipulate that all public agencies must check carefully in connection with public procurement that both suppliers and sub-contractors are sound and adhere to the law and collective bargaining agreements.
Stipulate that all public agencies must always demand a rigorous quality control and environmental report from all sub-contractors when operations involving environmental hazards are outsourced.
Make monitoring more rigorous, in order to prevent abuse of labour market policy subsidies.
Increase international co-operation against economic crime. Build networks between public agencies in different countries.
Work at international level to abolish so-called tax havens. Co-operate internationally to make it harder to transfer money to such countries.
Reduce EU subsidy frauds by improving monitoring at both international and EU level.
Invest more in research on economic crime, in order to find effective methods to fight this type of crime.
Develop more voluntary systems for certification and guarantee systems to prevent economic crime.
The standards we set for ourselves
Never accept undeclared earnings as a way of saving jobs or “boosting” income.
Take action against employers who try to convert employees into sub-contractors, and assert the collective bargaining agreement and the responsibilities of the employer.
Intensify forming of opinion within the organisation against economic crime – emphasise the connection between ec Intensify forming of opinion within the organisation against economic crime – emphasise the connection between economic crime and the social and personal consequences.
Develop programmes for each sector, to prevent economic crime in the sectors with the greatest problems.
Educate and inform union officials/representatives and members about economic crime and how they should act to stop these activities – develop guide books.



Item 8: General matters

Occupational Health and Safety – HRF study “Stressful service jobs”


Dans un rapport intermédiaire faisant partie d’une enquête de HRF sur la santé et sécurité intitulée «emplois de service sous stress», les résultats suivants ont été publiés; ils appellent une attention particulière:

    • Problèmes ergonomiques, en particulier soulèvement de charges lourdes, sont considérés comme très sérieux par presque tous les employés/es HRC, 70%, mais plus particulièrement par les serveurs et serveuses. De plus, le personnel de ménage perçoit les mauvaises postures de travail comme un problème majeur.
    • Le stress est également un problème très répandu qui a été mentionné par environ 70% des personnes interrogées. Un rythme de travail accéléré est donné comme la principale cause de stress. Là aussi, les serveurs et serveuses sont dans la catégorie la plus touchée.
    • Un autre point qui mérite l’attention est que la deuxième source de stress indiquée vient du travail physiquement exigeant.
    • Comparé à l’enquête menée par LO Suède (la centrale nationale) en 1995, un plus grand nombre d’employés/es d’hôtel et de restaurant – 30% – indique avoir souffert de blessures ou d’accidents du travail (24% en 1995). Les blessures au travail sont plus courantes parmi les serveurs/serveuses et les commis de cuisine et de salle, les plus courantes étant les troubles musculo-squelettiques.
    • Il est plus fréquent que les blessures au travail ne soient pas déclarées par les employés/es HRC que par les autres catégories de membres de LO. L’absence de déclaration a été constatée pour 2/3 des personnes blessées et plus particulièrement pour les femmes.
    • La deuxième plus grande cause de blessures au travail qui a été identifiée, est le stress. Cette cause a été mentionnée principalement par les cuisiniers/ères et les responsables buffet froid ainsi que les commis de cuisine et de salle.
    • Une réduction de la charge de travail et du stress sont les deux questions principales sur lesquelles la plupart des employés/es HRC aimerait voir légiférer de façon à améliorer l’environnement de travail.
    • Une majorité de membres HRF n’ont pas reçu de formation, d’une durée minimum d’une semaine, dans la dernière année. Parmi le personnel de ménage, environ 3% seulement ont reçu une telle formation. Généralement parlant, moins de femmes que d’hommes bénéficient de formation.
    • Les réceptionnistes, les cuisiniers/ères et les responsables buffet froid ressentent particulièrement le besoin de plus de formation pour être capable d’effectuer leur travail.
    • Plusieurs membres souhaitent également voir des améliorations en ce qui concerne la sécurité d’emploi, de meilleures postures de travail et un meilleur environnement de travail physique, par exemple par rapport aux bruits.
    • Les résultats de l’enquête montrent également que les membres considèrent que les activités syndicales locales sur les questions d’environnement de travail doivent être renforcées, ce qui est également un des objectifs de cette enquête.