Sweden has one of the highest union membership rates in the world, with nearly 70% of Sweden’s working population belonging to a union. Here are some reasons why.
Union membership offers a wide range of benefits for its members, with the exact terms and conditions varying depending on the service provider. Unions are also connected to the unemployment insurance fund which is very important to join once you've started working.
Unlike relationships seen in other countries, Sweden’s unions and businesses frequently operate in close harmony together. This helps explain why union membership in Sweden is much greater than that found abroad. Membership benefits can far outweigh the small monthly fees, which are often between 100-300 SEK per month.
Some unions specialize in different professions such as engineering or journalism. While others provide membership options for those with or without academic backgrounds.
Many companies include a union contact when advertising a job listing, and this can be a good place to start if you’re looking to find out more about a company’s workers’ rights. Unions are an ideal place to enquire about fair working conditions. Many foreigners are unaware of all their entitlements, including if they are being underpaid compared to their colleagues.
There are three larger confederations for unions in Sweden. Follow the links for more information:
The Swedish Trade Union Confederation (LO)
The Swedish Confederation of Employees /TCO)
The Swedish Confederation of Professional Associations (SACO)
Unions offer unemployment insurance ("A-kassa"), so if you find yourself suddenly out of work, you may receive up to 80 % of your most recent income. This insurance can be acquired even if you choose not to be a member of the union. These payments reduce over time and there are certain conditions on entitlement. Unions also provide legal support in certain circumstances and offer other membership benefits. Unions in Sweden have a lot of power and can protect their members rights.
Contact a union either before or just starting a job in Sweden to register for unemployment insurance and get further information about the benefits of becoming a union member.