International solidarity campaigns could attract young people to the trade union movement. “They are very interested in talking about international solidarity but don’t always realise that unions are at the core of it”. This is the opinion of Sandra Viktor (26), who until recently headed the youth activities of Swedish blue-collar union confederation LO.
With a union density of 80% and 30% of LO-members being under 35 years old, Viktor would seem to have little to worry about. However, she says that union density is dropping because young people are hesitant to join. “Young people see the unions as organisations for older people. They can’t identify with them as they don’t see many young members”. Part of the problem is that few young members are activists.
She also thinks that the Swedish union movement has become somewhat ‘tired’, but the current right-wing government might bring about change: “This government is bad for the country and the social model that the unions want: it is cutting unemployment funds and workers’ rights. More people now want to fight for a better Sweden. Maybe that will help us increase our membership”.
LO tries to get students interested in union membership by informing them about their rights when they do summer jobs. After the summer, meetings are organised to discuss their work experience. LO also publishes a students’ magazine.
Source: ITUC interview. See also: LO unions shed members