Knowledge and education are the foundation of welfare and development. We work to promote high quality in education and research. We also work towards a tax and social insurance system that will promote work and education. It is important, both for society and the individual, that investing in higher education is rewarded.
These are our issues:
Working life and the work environment
Saco wants to promote activities to improve the physical and psychosocial work environment. This is why union influence and the role of the safety representative are very important. A safety representative speaks for his or her colleagues in contacts with the employer and must be given the time and training to be able to do his or her job properly.
Graduate unemployment in Sweden is relatively low, but the matching between employer and employee needs to improve. Youth unemployment and the slow establishment of immigrant graduates on the labour market must be dealt with. Every year, Saco and its unions make five-year forecasts for the graduate labour market. Their purpose is to provide relevant information for young people when they choose courses in higher education: www.saco.se/framtidsutsikter (in swedish).
Working hours, holidays, notice, discrimination and integrity. Labour law governs the relationship between employee and employer. Labour law also establishes the rules that apply to the parties on the labour market and regulates influence in the workplace through collective agreement, as well as the right to use industrial action, such as strikes. Our unions help their members via advisory services and in labour disputes.
Management and leadership
Around 140,000 highly educated managers are members of our unions, making us one of Sweden's biggest organisations for managers. Saco works to help managers develop in their management role by offering service to the members in the form of advice, negotiation help, career support, salary statistics, lectures, training and networks.
A fifth of Sweden's professionals were born outside the country. Saco's report in swedish, Sveriges utrikesfödda akademiker (Sweden's immigrant professionals), shows that someone who was born in a different country has a disadvantage on the labour market, compared to people who were born in Sweden.
Women are now in the majority in higher education, but men earn SEK 2.6 million more than women over an entire lifetime. Educational choices affect lifetime earnings, but women are also more absent from work due to longer parental leave, more days at home with ill children and more part-time work. This restricts women's career and salary development and also affects their pension. Saco believes that more even distribution of parental leave is important and therefore wants to develop the current parental allowance system (in swedish).
Income and lifetime earnings
Your salary is not just what you earn every month. Income throughout your life should count, particularly for professionals with student debts and years of unpaid study. Another factor that affects lifetime earnings is the there are great differences between industries in terms of salary progression. When Saco analysed lifetime earning in different professions (in swedish), it turned out that some qualifications were a financial loss compared to not studying at all. Saco's opinion is that education should be rewarded – it must be possible to increase your salary throughout your career.
Taxes finance our common welfare. However, Saco believes that no one should need to pay more than half their salary in tax. Therefore, taxes on work should be reduced. We must have a taxation system that motivates and encourages work and education. Additionally, the current system is difficult and unclear. A total taxation review is necessary, and we must find other means of financing some areas of the public sector.
Social insurance is an important part of our welfare. You should have a secure income even if you are sick or unemployed, at home with young children or have retired. This is why it is important to be part of a union and that there are collective agreements at your workplace. For example, most of Saco's unions offer their members a supplementary income insurance that provides higher payments than a-kassa (unemployment insurance funds). We pay ourselves, via fees and taxes, for the various types of insurance, but Saco believes that there must be a clearer link between what we pay and what we get.
Education and research
Education and research are two prioritised areas for Saco. Higher education should be accessible to everyone, but the focus should be educational quality. This means better working conditions for teachers and researchers, teaching that is linked to research, more teaching hours and more teachers with doctorates. Major investment in the entire educational chain is necessary to create a society that can compete using knowledge and innovation.