The Swedish Trade Union Confederation, LO, is the central organisation for 14 affiliates which organise workers within both the private and the public sectors.
The 14 affiliates together have about 1 423 000 members of whom about 657 000 are women. The 14 affiliates of LO have independent status, and LO is primarily an organisation for co-ordination, research, signing labour market insurance schemes and creating public opinion at central and regional levels.
Wage bargaining, international activities, trade union education, children’s and young people’s education, gender equality and social security are some of the areas for which LO is responsible for co-ordinating. The individual affiliates have full responsibility within their industrial sectors at central, regional and local levels. They are also responsible for the administration of the unemployment insurance funds.
An important task for LO is to protect the trade union movement’s interests in relation to Parliament, the authorities and other organisations. LO is therefore a body to which proposed legislative measures affecting society as a whole are referred for consideration. It also has representatives on the governing bodies of various governmental authorities. LO is also involved in matters concerning the Swedish labour market and the political development as a whole.
Through the LO Districts and LO Sections, LO can co-ordinate trade union activities and influence public opinion at local level.
Contacts with the Social Democratic Party are frequent and LO has a representative on the party’s executive committee elected by the Party Congress. LO and the Social Democratic Party are two independent organisations which have common goals and common viewpoints on most questions. On the other hand, LO and the Social Democrats may sometimes hold different opinions as to the best way of achieving these goals.
Within the labour movement, there are also a number of organisations linked to LO, such as the educational organisation ABF (Workers’ Educational Association). The Labour Movement Archives and Library, a centre for information and research on the Swedish labour movement and its history, have comprehensive collections of material.