Increased confidence in trade union membership
Despite falling trade union membership rates, a positive attitude towards trade union membership continues to be strong. This is stated in the LO report ‘Opinions on unions and work – trade union membership’, presented at the LO General Council in October.
A clear majority of LO members asserts that trade union membership is of great value as regards trade union core issues such as wages, work environment and employment security. 80 per cent are of the opinion that trade union membership offers better employment security, 66 per cent - that it gives the possibility to influence work environment and 63 per cent - that it gives better wage development.
During 2011 there was a substantial upswing of the opinion that trade union membership is valuable. More people are now of the opinion that unions are important in terms of wage development, employment security, better insurance protection, as well as assistance and support in case of a dispute with the employer.
Despite this, the report shows that almost every third wage-earner is not a member of a trade union. The main reason why people do not join unions is stated to be the fact that it is too expensive (35 per cent). Among those who left the unions, more and more give the cost as a reason. In 2006, 17 per cent stated this as a reason and in 2011 the figure rose to 27 per cent. During the same period, the percentage of those who left because of discontent with the unions decreased correspondingly.
It is of course sad to see that people choose to leave the union for economic reasons. Especially as we know that the number of those who appreciate union membership is continuously high. LO national unions have not increased their membership fees. What has happened is that the government has multiplied the fees to the unemployment funds, which is a cost we cannot influence, LO President Wanja Lundby-Wedin states.
The Swedish model is based on strong social partners with a strong membership rate. When the centre-right government speaks about the importance of the Swedish model, it is just empty words, as long as they are not willing to reconsider their decision to increase the fees to LO unions’ unemployment funds.