Union of commercial employees

Handels, The Commercial Employees' Union, is Sweden's third-largest blue-collar union, with some 157 000 members.

Although the union was founded in 1906, it's in many ways a young organization. A third of our members are under the age of 30.

We are active in more than 25 000 different workplaces and represent a wide range of groups and industries. The majority of our members are in the retail sector, but we also organize groups such as florists, hairdressers, storage and warehouse personnel, opticians, watchmakers, office staff and students in vocational training.

Fair Pay & Conditions

Handels negotiates agreements for fair pay and better working conditions. Pay is a major trade union issue, and our ambition is to ensure the introduction of salary structures that are clearly linked to the conditions and work at each workplace. Our aim is fair pay, and a key objective is the eradication of differences between men’s and women’s salaries.

Everyone’s right to a full time job

More than half of our female members work part time. Many of these would like to work more, and Handels fights for everyone’s right to a full time job combined with the right to choose to work part time.

Collective agreements

Collective agreements are the foundation of trade union work in Sweden, as they guarantee a wide range of rights in the workplace. Our aim is for all members to be protected by collective agreements.

A strong influence

Our union is an active participant in the social debate. We lobby politicians and key decision makers at all levels, taking up issues that are vital to the interests of our members. Handels has a strong influence in political and ideological issues. Our membership of LO, the Swedish Trade Union Confederation, gives greater strength to our arguments and increases our influence in the larger perspective. We also cooperate with other trade unions and organizations. We are against all forms of discrimination. Abusive and offensive treatment of individuals and groups is a direct violation of the ideas at the heart of trade unionism – justice, good working conditions, development and equality.

Be active

All members can work actively within the trade union – both at the workplace and within the union organization. Seven out of every ten people employed in the commercial sector are members of our union, which is a good start.

An international perspective

Our work does not end at the Swedish border. Union rights are vital for acceptable working and living conditions. Our international work confirms our commitment to supporting better working conditions and to fighting oppression and exploitation of workers around the world. Events in other parts of the world also have an impact on our members and us.

The Swedish Model

In this leaflet, made by LO, you can read about the basic features of the Swedish collective agreements and the important role they play.

The Swedish Model

Uppdaterad: 14 mars 2016