Swedish Trade Union Confederation

Swedish Trade Union Confederation
Full name Swedish Trade Union Confederation
Native name Landsorganisationen i Sverige (LO)
Founded 1898 (1898)
Members 1.5 million
Affiliation ITUC, ETUC
Key people Karl-Petter Thorwaldsson, president
Office location Stockholm, Sweden
Country Sweden
Website www.lo.se

The Swedish Trade Union Confederation (Swedish: Landsorganisationen i Sverige, literally "National Organisation in Sweden"), commonly referred to as LO, is a national trade union centre, an umbrella organisation for fourteen Swedish trade unions that organise mainly "blue-collar" workers. The Confederation, which gathers in total about 1.5 million employees out of Sweden's 10 million people population, was founded in 1898 by blue-collar unions on the initiative of the 1897 Scandinavian Labour Congress and the Swedish Social Democratic Party, which almost exclusively was made up by trade unions.[1] In 2017 union density of Swedish blue-collar workers was 61%,[2] a decline by fifteen percentage points since 2006 (union density in 2006: 77%). A strongly contributing factor was the considerably raised fees to union unemployment funds in January 2007 made by the new centre-right government.[3] [4]


The fourteen affiliates of the Swedish Trade Union Confederation span both the private and the public sector. The member unions are fully independent, with the role of the Confederation limited to the co-ordination of wage bargaining, international activities, trade union education and other areas. Another important task is to promote the organisation's views to decision-makers and the general public. It also has representatives on the governing bodies of many government authorities. The Confederation is also responsible for research and signing labour market insurance schemes. The member unions, however, carry the responsibility for the administration of the unemployment insurance funds.

While its Danish sister organisation, the Danish Confederation of Trade Unions, cut its formal ties to the country's Social Democratic party in 1995, the Swedish Trade Union Confederation maintains a strong cooperation with the Social Democrats. Although the organisations are independent from each other, the Swedish Trade Union Confederation has a representative on the party’s executive committee elected by the Party Congress. Also, both the Confederation and the member unions contribute substantial amounts of money to the party.

Until 1987 there was a system of collective membership in the Social Democratic Party for members in the confederation, in which the local union could apply for membership in the Social Democratic Party, effectively enrolling all its members into the Social Democratic Party. (An individual could decline to be part of this collective membership.)

Until recently, The Swedish Trade Union Confederation owned 50.1% of the evening newspaper Aftonbladet, the largest daily newspaper in Scandinavia (as of 2005). As of 2012, the organisation owns 9% of the newspaper. The organisation bought Aftonbladet in 1956 but sold off 49.9 percent to Norwegian media company Schibsted on 2 May 1996.

The number of member unions have been reduced by mergers. Most recently the Forest and Wood Workers' Union and the Graphic Workers' Union merged into the single union GS Union on 1 June 2009.


  1. Building Maintenance Workers' Union (Fastighetsanställdas Förbund)
  2. Building Workers' Union (Svenska Byggnadsarbetareförbundet, colloquially "Byggnads")
  3. Commercial Employees' Union (Handelsanställdas Förbund, colloquially "Handels")
  4. Electricians' Union (Svenska Elektrikerförbundet, "SEF")
  5. Food Workers' Union (Svenska Livsmedelsarbetareförbundet)
  6. Hotel and Restaurant Workers' Union (Hotell och Restaurang Facket, "HRF")
  7. GS Union (GS Facket för skogs-, trä- och grafisk bransch) following the 1 June 2009 merger of
  8. IF Metall following the January 1, 2006 merger of
  9. Municipal Workers' Union (Svenska Kommunalarbetareförbundet, colloquially "Kommunal")
  10. Musicians' Union (Svenska Musikerförbundet, "SMF")
  11. Painters' Union (Svenska Målareförbundet)
  12. Paper Workers' Union (Svenska Pappersindustriarbetareförbundet, colloquially "Pappers")
  13. Transport Workers' Union (Svenska Transportarbetareförbundet, colloquially "Transport")
  14. Union for Service and Communications Employees (Facket för Service och Kommunikation, "SEKO")

List of chairmen

See also


  1. Torvald Karlbom Den svenska fackföreningsrörelsen, Stockholm: Tidens förlag, pp. 45-47
  2. Yearly average in 2017. See Anders Kjellberg (2018) Kollektivavtalens täckningsgrad samt organisationsgraden hos arbetsgivarförbund och fackförbund, Department of Sociology, Lund University. Studies in Social Policy, Industrial Relations, Working Life and Mobility. Research Reports 2018:1, Appendix 3 (in English) Table A
  3. Anders Kjellberg "The Decline in Swedish Union Density since 2007" Nordic Journal of Working Life Studies (NJWLS) Vol. 1. No 1 (August 2011), pp. 67-93
  4. Anders Kjellberg and Christian Lyhne Ibsen (2016) "Attacks on union organizing: Reversible and irreversible changes to the Ghent-systems in Sweden and Denmark", in Trine Pernille Larsen and Anna Ilsøe (eds.)(2016) Den Danske Model set udefra - komparative perspektiver på dansk arbejdsmarkedsregulering, Copenhagen: Jurist- og Økonomforbundets Forlag, p. 292

Further reading

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