Swedish trade unions lament rapid loss of members

Swedish trade unions have lost 37,000 members in the first six months of the year.

According to a report in the Swedish Landsorganisationen newspaper, the LO confederation’s 15 trade unions have lost members in the year’s first half.

LO is the central organization for 15 affiliates which organize workers within both the private and the public sectors. LO is primarily an organization for co-ordination, research, signing labour market insurance schemes and creating public opinion at central and regional levels.

Last year 7.2 percent of members left the confederation, bringing numbers down by 130,000 to 1,674,500 members.

The downward spiral comes at a time when huge numbers of people are cancelling their unemployment insurance, the so-called A-kassa, following the government’s tougher regulations on A-kassa membership.

The Swedish Confederation for Professional Employees (TCO) is also shedding members. Last year TCO lost about five percent of members and it looks as though the cull has continued during this year’s first half.

The one exception is the SAHP, the Swedish Association of Health Professionals, which welcomed 4,000 new members in the year’s first half. The healthcare strike in early 2008 clearly encouraged new members to join, as many were worried about not getting any compensation during the strike if they were outside the unions.

However, around 1,000 members have since left the trade union, possibly following their disappointment with new salary agreements.