Class and gender decisive of privileges and benefits at work

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Blue-collar workers do not only earn less than white-collar workers but they do also have fewer possibilities to plan and exert influence on their work tasks. Besides, they have considerably fewer benefits than white-collar workers have. And women have generally less freedom and fewer benefits at work in comparison to men – irrespective of class.
These are the conclusions of a new report “Opinions on unions and work, part 5, on privileges and benefits at work as well as perceived class affinity”, which was published recently.

The report reveals that women, without exception, have lower access to the ten privileges at work, which have been examined, irrespective of being blue-collar worker or white-collar worker.

As many as 34 per cent of female blue-collar workers cannot take a break for 5 minutes without asking for permission or asking somebody to replace them. The corresponding figure among male blue-collar workers is 12 per cent and among male white-collar workers only 5 per cent.

It is unacceptable that such a large number of our female members are so riveted to their workplace that they cannot go to the lavatory without asking for permission. It must be possible to organise and man the workplace in a much better way – also for women, Karl-Petter Thorwaldsson, LO President, said.

The difference between blue-collar workers and white-collar workers is also evident. Only 36 per cent of blue-collar workers have the freedom to choose work tasks for the next hour, compared to 69 per cent of white-collar workers. And only 38 per cent of blue-collar workers, compared to 76 per cent of white-collar workers, have flexible working hours.

White-collar workers enjoy work benefits, large as well as small ones, to a considerably higher degree than blue-collar workers do, and women benefit to a lesser degree than men do.

Only 45 per cent of blue-collar workers, compared to 62 per cent of white collar workers, took part in in-house training last year. Furthermore, 69 per cent of female blue-collar workers, compared to 92 per cent of male white-collar workers, are offered free coffee by their employer.

The report also contains a section on perceived class affinity. 91 per cent of LO members answer that they perceive themselves as blue-collar workers while 6 per cent perceive themselves as white-collar workers. However, even a considerable number of the members of TCO (The Swedish Confederation of Professional Employees) and Saco (The Swedish Confederation of Professional Associations – academics) perceive themselves as blue-collar workers. This figure is 34 per cent among TCO members and 17 per cent among Saco members.