Trade Unions: what you need to know!

Who are you and how you relate to the unions

I’m Boel, the chair of the ABE PhD student council and I am a member of Sveriges Ingenjörer. During my time on the council, I’ve realized that many of the problems of PhD students are employment-related, while the chapter’s domain mainly is academic. Thus, I started advocating for more PhD students to join the trade unions since the PhD chapter and THS have very limited power with problems of employment. For example, it is the trade unions who negotiate the PhD salary with KTH, not THS. I invited Sveriges Ingenjörer for a lunch lecture for PhD students in January this year where they talked about the role of the union and the difference between them and THS. Did you miss it? Do not worry, they will make it recurring!

What are the unions?

A trade union is a type of club that works to improve working conditions. When you are a member of a Swedish trade union, you can get help and support concerning your salary, employment terms, and opportunities for in-service training in Sweden. You can also get legal advice and information about guidelines concerning the work environment. 70% of the Swedish workforce is a member of a union and the unions who cater to PhD students are not politically affiliated.

Which ones we can register as PhD students/licentiates?

As a PhD student at KTH, you should register in one of the following:

They all offer discounted membership fees for PhD students.

Why is important to register in one union?

Because they can help you if you ever need any type of legal help or support with your employment. It can be regarding:

  • Salary (if you are not being moved up in the salary ladder)
  • Discrimination
  • Job security
  • Working hours
  • Powers of authority
  • Health and Safety
  • Insurance
  • Pensions

Joining a union is like insurance, become a member before you get any type of problem at your workplace. You have to be a member for at least three months before you can seek their help. However, you can still receive their guidance on issues as a new member.

What kind of benefits you can get from it?

Apart from legal advice and support the unions offer the opportunity to sign up for a-kassa, access to beneficial insurance, income insurance that tops up the a-kassa in case you become unemployed, mortgage discounts, seminars, courses, and access to salary statistics.

What is the most relevant matter today that relates to the union’s work?

Raising the PhD student salary and making sure that all PhD students are moved up in the salary ladder according to collective agreements.

What you would like to see happening in the future?

I’d like to see a closer relationship between the PhD chapter and the local union. Ideally like in Luleå where they have PhD students on the union boards that also have a formal role on the PhD chapter board.

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