The labour market and LO must be made more equal

In spite of decades of work, politicians, trade unions, employers and citizens have not managed to eliminate the prevailing inequality in society. LO now, in its capacity as trade union organisation, makes fresh efforts to boost equality in working life as well as within LO.

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Still, equality is making slow progress. Men have higher salaries compared to women in nine out of the ten biggest occupational groups. Unpaid work continues to be women’s lot. As regards the parental insurance, few men make use of more than the two stipulated months. Women, on the other side, have not access to power to the same extent as men, neither on boards of directors, nor in unions or politics.

The gap between women and men is far too wide in the labour market. It is considerably more common that women do not have permanent full-time employment but have temporary and part-time employment. In 2010, the number of women in temporary employment was 70 000 higher than that of men. Part-time employment is common when it comes to professions dominated by women. For example, 6 out of 10 employees working within the care of the elderly are part-time workers, many of them not by their own choice. This results in lower wages and pensions for women, but it is also a problem for society as a whole. If women were to work to the same extent as men, the work supply would increase by 150 000 according to Statistics Sweden.

Today’s policy for equal opportunities lacks insight into how different structures are mutually reinforced. Our aim is different. More distinct measures are needed, for example the right to full-time work, investments in women’s working environment, the division of the parental insurance into three blocks and long-term public investments in women’s crisis centres all over the country, LO President, Karl Petter Thorwaldsson, says.

But LO itself has a responsibility for improving equality, not the least within our own organisation. At the LO Congress in 2012, LO’s mandate as a feministic organisation was reinforced. I, together with the LO leadership, have the liability to make trade union feminism to a natural basis for LO, Karl-Petter Thorwaldsson adds.

Therefore the LO equality work will be intensified in 2013. Below I mention some efforts we will make in order to develop, both in the short as well as in the long run, this work of the LO and the national unions. Our belief is that increased knowledge provides increased possibilities of changes within our organisation as well as in society as a whole.

a) Map power and representation within LO and the national unions as regards, for example, assignments and influential positions.

b) Special training courses for trade union elected representatives to strengthen women’s position within the trade union movement, and train women and men who can contribute to making our movement more equal.

c) Revive the discussions on class and gender.

d) An annual recurrent study on equality which is to scrutinize the development in working life and in family life to ascertain what is needed to achieve an equal society.