Swedish unions lose members in record numbers

Swedish blue collar trade unions are shrinking, with the powerful LO confederation shedding 27,000 members last year.

LO, made up of a large number of unions representing manufacturing and mainly low-skilled service jobs, has posted net losses of members for a number of years. Last year was the first year in which all member unions saw rolls fall, however.

The largest percentage fall was experienced by Livs, which represents workers in the food industry. The second largest drop came for the Swedish Paper Workers’ Union.

LO put the drop down to the government’s changes to the unemployment insurance system. The system, while funded mainly out of taxpayers’ money, is administered by unions. The government recently introduced increased membership fees and reduced payouts under the scheme.

Fall in union membership was also attributed to a lack of success in recruiting young people.

Other union groups also lost members. The TCO confederation, with unions representing professionals, saw its overall number of members drop. SFHL, representing teachers in adult education, saw the biggest fall, with insurance workers union FTF and the Finance Sector Union also losing members.

Some unions grew, including those representing customs officers, police officers and central government civil servants.

Growth was also seen in the Saco confederation, which also contains unions representing professionals. Ledarna, which represents bosses, also saw its number of members continue to rise.