Trends and Prospects in 34 Countries
Edited By Craig Phelan
The Swedish Trade Union System in Transition:High but Falling Union Density 259
ANDERS KJELLBERG The Swedish Trade Union System in Transition: High but Falling Union Density 1. Introduction Together with two other Nordic countries – Denmark and Finland – Sweden has a very high union density. As much as 70–80 per cent of all workers are union members. Without a high density among both white-collar and blue-collar workers the average rate would not attain such impressive levels. In Sweden these categories are unionised to almost the same extent: 77 per cent of blue-collar workers and 78 per cent of white-collar workers (Tables 1 and 2). In the private sector a somewhat lower proportion of white-collar workers are organised than blue-collar workers (70 and 74 per cent), while the opposite is the case among public sector employees (90 and 86 per cent). In many countries white-collar workers in the public sector are distinguished by high union density in sharp contrast to the usually very low density among those in private employment. Yet it is remarkable that as many as seven out of ten Swedish private sector white-collar workers are union members. Among both blue-collar and white-collar workers the average female union density is somewhat higher than that of men (Tables 1 and 2). This is particularly marked in the large public sector employ- ing every third worker. Among private sector blue-collar workers men are on average better organised than women due to the high proportion of women employed in private services. As in other countries union- isation in the latter trades is lower than...
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