New president for white-collar confederation

A review panel appointed by the board of the Federation of White-Collar Workers (TCO) has unanimously supported the appointment of Eva Nordmark as its new president, following the resignation of Sture Nordh. Nordmark is a former social democratic member of parliament, currently President of the Swedish Union of Local Government Officers and known to be a moderniser. Her likely appointment is expected to raise the profile of the TCO further in socio-political debate in Sweden.

Background

The Federation of White-Collar Workers (TCO) is Sweden’s second largest trade union confederation, with roughly 1.2 million members and 16 member organisations. Approximately half of the members work in the private sector and half in the public sector. TCO does not normally negotiate in bargaining rounds; the confederation’s main task is to promote and defend the needs and interests of its members in social debate and the political decision-making process.

However, TCO did participate in the negotiations for a new central agreement in 2009 (SE1004019I) and will contribute to a joint investigation on the Employment Protection Act (SE1102019I). Unlike Sweden’s blue collar confederation, the Swedish Trade Union Confederation (LO), TCO is not affiliated with any political party.

After 12 years of service, TCO President Sture Nordh announced his resignation in November 2010. In cooperation with its member organisations, the federation’s board issued a job description stipulating that the next president should be cooperative and well-known in the Swedish socio-political debate. In April 2011, a review panel appointed by the board unanimously proposed 40-year-old Eva Nordmark as the new president of TCO. According to the panel, Nordmark perfectly fitted the job description. All member organisations have expressed their support for her and a formal decision will be taken at the TCO conference on 10–12 May 2011.

Brief presentation of new president

Eva Nordmark is currently president of the Swedish Union of Local Government Officers (SKTF), one of TCO’s largest member organisations. Nordmark has a background in the Social Democratic Party (SAP); she served as a member of parliament during the 1995–1998 term and was a local Chair in the Swedish Social Democratic Youth League during the early 1990s. She has not, however, been a party member for a number of years. Furthermore, Nordmark has worked as an administrative official at the Swedish Social Insurance Agency (Försäkringskassan) and studied political science.

New president’s agenda

During her seven-year mandate as president of SKTF, Nordmark has been known as a trade union moderniser. She has, for instance, suggested that at least 30% of all board members should be under the age of 35 and that no one should earn a living by commissions of trust. To recruit new members for SKTF, she encouraged members to work as ambassadors in areas of interest to them.

Despite Nordmark’s strong ties to the social democratic party, she has described the transformation of the Moderate Party (Moderaterna) as a benchmark for organisational change. In April 2011, Nordmark publicly criticised the newly elected Social Democratic leader Håkan Juholt for his stand on housework tax deduction.

In an interview on 11 April, Nordmark specifically named the education premium for young women, work-life balance and labour market conditions for young people as priority issues. Nordmark has also called for closer cooperation between TCO and the Swedish Federation of Professional Associations (SACO).

Commentary

In recent years, Swedish blue-collar unions have faced declining membership whereas white-collar organisations have boosted their numbers; TCO and SACO combined nowadays have more members than LO. TCO, the largest white-collar confederation, is thus a major force in the socio-political debate. With Nordmark as president, TCO’s participation in the debate will most probably be further enhanced.

References

Frykeskog, L., ‛Eva Nordmark blir ny TCO-ordförande’, TCO-tidningen, 14 April 2011

Axelsson, C., ‛Håkan Juholt är Lomhörd’, Svenska Dagbladet, 12 April 2011

Nordmark, E., Pagrotsky, L., ‛Moderaterna inspirerar oss till förnyelse i facket’, Dagens Nyheter, 27 February 2011

Frykeskog, L., ‛SKTF röjer väg för radikal föryngring inom förbundet’, TCO-tidningen, 9 September 2010

Mats Kullander and David Björnberg, Oxford Research

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