Unions and employers' organisations discuss mergers

In November 2002, the boards of the two main employers' organisations in the Swedish municipality and city council sector decided unanimously to propose a merger. Meanwhile, two large trade unions in the industry sector are examining the possibility of a future merger - the latest in a series of potential mergers involving the member unions of the blue-collar LO confederation.

In November 2002, the boards of the Swedish Association of Local Authorities (Svenska Kommunförbundet) and the Federation of Swedish County Councils (Landstingsförbundet) decided unanimously to propose a merger to create a new employers' association for almost all of the local government sector. A new head office might be in place at the end of 2004, if the organisations' member employers agree to the merger, which they seem likely to do.

Meanwhile, in October 2002 two trade unions in industry, the Swedish Metalworkers' Union (Svenska Metallindustriarbetareförbundet, Metall) and the Industrial Workers' Union (Industrifacket), started working on a possible merger in the near future. The leaders of the two unions, Göran Johnsson (Metall) and Leif Ohlsson (Industrifacket), stated at a joint press conference that they wish to increase the strength of their unions and the value of union membership. The two unions also want to put more resources into local trade union activities, with more offices and union meeting places. A merged union would have some 500,000 members - Metall has about 401,000 members and Industrifacket, operating in the manufacturing sector, around 91,000 members. A first exploratory phase of the merger process will, it is hoped, be ready for presentation in autumn 2003, with the two unions taking the final decision in 2004. Metall and Industrifacket are both affiliates of the blue-collar Swedish Trade Union Confederation (Landsorganisationen, LO).

There are other possible mergers among LO-affiliated trade unions in the pipeline. The Graphical Workers' Union (Grafiska Förbundet Mediafacket, GF), the Electricians' Union (Elektrikerförbundet, SEF) and the Union for Service and Communication Employees (Facket för Service och Kommunikation, Seko) have for some time been working together in the so-called 'SEGEL project' to examine the possibility of a merger to create a 230,000-strong union. The unions' members are somewhat divided in their views and a future merger is far from a certainty. Furthermore, the Commercial Employees' Union (Handelsanställdas förbund, Handels) and the Transport Workers' Union (Transportarbetareförbundet, Transport) are currently seeking to find ways of cooperating over a possible merger.

In January 2002, the Swedish Municipal Workers' Union (Svenska Kommunalarbetarförbundet, Kommunal) merged with the Agricultural Workers' Union (Lantarbetareförbundet) (SE0203101N).

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