• Sweden's news in English
 
jobs_header_v3

Swedish union takes swipe at US lifestyle

Ann Törnkvist · 20 Jan 2014, 16:36

Published: 20 Jan 2014 16:36 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

The Swedish garden-party essential, a good game of kubb, takes place not on a suburban lawn in Sweden, but by the brushed cement poolside of an LA mansion in the new advert from Swedish trade union TCO, released on Monday.

"It's to make the Swedish Model more visible in a different way. People often know very little about it, which makes it harder for the unions to justify their own existence," said TCO spokeswoman Ana Esteban. "The unions are not simply there to back up salary insurance, we want to talk about a model that is very flexible and useful."

"The Swedish Model means that the two parties can talk about what is needed in that particular industry, and be supple, rather than have very rigid legislation that we don't think is good for the Swedish economy," Esteban told The Local.

In a bid to sing the praises of the Swedish Model, in which unions and employer organizations negotiate collective bargaining agreements, an American actor explains why he has chosen to live "like A Swede", after having tried but not found fulfillment studying kabbalah and living as a vegan. 

READ ALSO: Is the Swedish Model the fairest of them all? 

As well as kubb, and a rewritten rendition of a traditional Swedish drinking song explaining why there is no need to get the state involved in labour negotiations, the strapping actor showcases a host of employee benefits enjoyed by many Swedish workers.

He uses his healthcare stipend (friskvård) to employ a celebrity personal trainer and takes out paternal leave (pappaledighet). Donning a faux beard, he also engages in some role-play with a nurse to feel what it will be like to be old and creaky, yet rest assured that society will step in to help rather than having to splurge cash on a private elder care facility.

But why? the critical viewer may wonder.

The clip uploaded on Sunday offered an explanation.

"Do you know why Sweden is ranked as one of the best countries in the world? Like a Swede (...) explains how anyone in Sweden may have the same benefits as only the very richest in other countries," the text offered in the way of explanation.

READ ALSO: TCO explains why Swedish companies should employ more foreign-born staff

While the clip may garner a few giggles, a less than friendly criticism of the US underscores the video. For example, the advertisement pokes fun at Americans' lack of long holidays. The filmmakers used a tired-looking and skinny actor to off-set the hunky "Swede" as they compare six weeks holiday, Swedish style, to the more usual two weeks bestowed on employees in the US. 

Esteban said there was no intent to insult Americans.

"We chose the US because many Swedes look up to the US, and rightly so, it's a fantastic country... but it doesn't have all the same benefits as Sweden does," Esteban told The Local.

She also underlined that the UK faced similar work-life balance problems as the US. The union saw many cases of Swedes who had worked in London, but as soon as they had children moved home to Sweden because "the system there does not support working and having a family."

Ann Törnkvist (ann.tornkvist@thelocal.com)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit


Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Swedes protest cutbacks in personal assistance budget
Demonstrations were held in 25 towns and cities across Sweden on Saturday. Photo: Janerik Hansson / TT

Thousands of people staged demonstrations across Sweden on Saturday to protest recent cutbacks in the budget funding personal assistance for people with disabilities.

Police launch manhunt after deadly Stockholm shooting
No suspects have yet been arrested over the attack. Photo: Claudio Bresciani/TT

Swedish police have launched a massive manhunt after masked gunmen barged into a Stockholm café and shot two people to death late on Friday.

Sweden has fourth happiest workers in the world: report
Is Swedish fika the secret? Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

Sweden is home to the fourth happiest workers in the world, an international survey has claimed.

Here's how much Ikea staff are getting for Christmas
Christmas comes early for Ikea staff. Photo: Vegard Wivestad Grøtt/NTB scanpix/TT

Staff at Ikea are getting an early Christmas treat in the form of millions of euros to share between them.

Sweden threatens action to stop Facebook 'hate and lies'
Should Facebook crack down on hate speech? Photo: AP Photo/dapd, Timur Emek

Sweden could impose legal obligations on Facebook as a last resort if the social network does not crack down on hate speech and fake news, the culture and democracy minister has threatened.

In pictures
This is what Sweden's new Icehotel looks like
An artist's impression of the hotel in winter. Photo: PinPin Studio/Icehotel

The famous Icehotel in Jukkasjärvi has just opened its new year-round section. Have a look at some of the first pictures of one of the world's most unusual hotels here.

The Local List
Sweden's pioneering free press act turns 250
It doesn't look bad for 250 years old. Photo: Regeringen

On the day of its 250th anniversary, The Local looks at five facts worth knowing about Sweden's groundbreaking Freedom of the Press Act.

Beware ice, Swedes warned after string of accidents
File photo of a Swedish car not related to the story. Photo: Tomas Oneborg / SvD / TT

Swedes have been warned to be on their guards as stretches of the country’s southern roads turned into ice rinks due to the chilly temperatures, causing a string of car accidents.

The Local List
Ten things you should never say to a Swede
These things are guaranteed to anger Swedes. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

The Local List
Seven bizarre Swedish academic traditions
Student life in Lund, southern Sweden. Photo: Johan Nilsson/SCANPIX

The Local guides you through Sweden's ancient universities' top academic traditions all foreign students need to know about.

Sponsored Article
Smart songwriters: Sweden’s next big music export?
National
Final proof that Sweden has NOT banned Christmas lights
Sponsored Article
Why Stockholm attracts so much talent from abroad
Travel
IN PICTURES: Stockholm's new myth-busting Viking museum
The Local Voices
Job market matchmaker hooks up 1,300 newcomers and Swedes
Blog updates

14 November

Hello darkness, my old friend (The Diplomatic Dispatch) »

"I started thinking about November’s blog for The Local at the end of October, as the…" READ »

 

6 October

10 useful hjälpverb (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hej! I think the so-called “hjalpverb” (auxiliary verbs in English) are a good way to get…" READ »

 
 
 
Sponsored Article
18 Stockholm innovations to keep an eye on
Gallery
People-watching: November 30th
Sponsored Article
Sweden to Hong Kong: The Local guide
National
This is how cold it's going to get in Sweden this week
Gallery
Property of the week: Skellefteå
National
Inside Sweden's perilous Sami reindeer pilgrimage
Sponsored Article
Programmers' bootcamp: Change your life in 12 weeks
The Local Voices
'My name is Sami and I am a proud Swede - it hurts when people say I'm not Swedish'
Sponsored Article
We visited 5 'murder spots' in Malmö
National
Swedish Advent 'less popular than Christmas Eve'
Gallery
People-watching: November 25th-27th
Sponsored Article
Why Stockholm startups are teaching kids to program
Swedish city to put all workers through LGBT course
Sponsored Article
Smart songwriters: Sweden’s next big music export?
National
The five weirdest attacks on Sweden's giant straw yule goat
Gallery
People-watching: November 23rd
Sponsored Article
'Learning to trade gave me the life I wanted'
The Local Voices
'Swedes are stylish: you need to dress well if you want to fit in'
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: leading the way in clean energy innovation
National
Critics slam Swedish paper's Donald Trump cartoon as anti-Semitic
Sponsored Article
Michael Björklund: 'Being a chef is crazy work'
National
Men call Sweden's mansplaining hotline for mansplaining tips
Sponsored Article
We visited 5 'murder spots' in Malmö
Gallery
Property of the week: Gotland
Sponsored Article
HIV in Sweden today is not like it was yesterday
Gallery
People-watching: November 18th-20th
Sponsored Article
Mette Helbæk: ‘We have a basic human need to connect'
Culture
Shooting starts on The Bridge 4
Sponsored Article
Terje Håkonsen: 'I try to make everything count'
Travel
Sweden's ten most beautiful places
Sponsored Article
Lina Thomsgård: 'I try to break down barriers every day'
The Local Voices
Having a Swedish girlfriend didn't help this Egyptian evade culture shock
Sponsored Article
'We wanted to turn ideas into action'
Gallery
People-watching: November 16th
Culture
What the world of Harry Potter would look like... set in Sweden
National
Here's where Sweden's best non-native English speakers live
The Local Voices
This new book by a Syrian writer gives refugee children their own hero
Politics
Do Swedish polls underestimate support for Sweden Democrats?
3,561
jobs available