Labour Unions

Labour unions/ نقابات العمال

Sweden has a long tradition of labour unions. The first ones where founded in 1880 and nearly 70% of the working population in Sweden belongs to a union today. This makes Sweden one of the most unionised countries in the world.

Why join a union?

Swedish unions are powerful and they regulate essential parts of the Swedish work market. This is done by collective agreements – so called kollektivavtal that are the result of agreements between the unions and employers´ organisations. These agreements cover crucial matters like fair wages, employer pensions, insurances and annual leave days.

Note: kollektivavtal apply to all employees, even non-union-members.

1. Protection

A labour union will protect you in case of conflict. Disagreements can occur for many reasons (unjust working conditions, discrimination, or bullying). It can be hard to defend your rights and stand up against unfairness if you are alone. The union can help you clear conflicts and back you up in case the conflict turns into a legal matter.

2. Solidarity

A strong union means fair play on the labour market. Swedish unions are powerful and they have the ability to negotiate good working conditions. Yet, they are nothing without their members. Signing up for a membership is the main way to enforce the unions and ensure they keep on doing their job successfully.

3. Support and advice

Swedish labour legislation is hard to understand. It’s complex and varies between work fields, which makes it hard to overview. Your union can help with questions and doubts and they offer guidance and give advice in legal matters. Joining a union means that you have a trusted partner to turn to, for clarity, support and advice.

4. Strength in numbers

The union makes you stronger. A single voice might not be heard or respected but the combined voices of a union can quickly put things in motion.

5. Security

Joining a union is a way to secure your income in case of unemployment. All unions have unemployment funds – a-kassor and special income insurances.

6. Insurance

Unions can offer insurances at discounted rates as many unions have close cooperation with several insurance companies.

Why join a union if you can enjoy the benefits of their agreements, whitout contributing through a membership?

You can enjoy the benefits without a membership, but is that really fair? It’s a bit like eating the cake that someone else baked and then leave without even saying thanks. It is possible, but not right.

A low memberships percentage means low bargaining powers. And that will lead up to unjust working condition for union-members as well as non-union members. So, don’t be a free loader, do the right thing and join the union.

Like a Swede is an informative website (provided by the trade union TCO) with extensive information in English, about everything concerning labour unions in Sweden.

Find Your Union

Swedish unions are organised into three larger confederations. Each confederation gathers unions, which deals with different parts of the occupational structure.

Tip: Make sure to check out unemployment insurance as it can make unemployment a lot less nerve-wracking. Unemployment insurances are called arbetslöshetskassa (or simply a-kassa).

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