Trade union strategies for labor market integration of refugee immigrants in Sweden
Sweden’s social and labor policy have been influenced by strong labor movements. The role of trade unions is of significance, when speaking of labor market integration of refugee immigrants. This study aimed to examine how the Swedish Trade Union Confederation, LO, supports integration of refugee immigrants on the Swedish labor market. Through semi-structured interviews with representatives from LO, reasons of exclusion of refugee immigrants from the labor market, strategies to integrate refugee immigrants on the labor market and current policies regarding integration of refugee immigrants, were investigated. The empirical data was analyzed using theoretical frameworks of social exclusion, empowerment and Esping-Andersen’s categorization of welfare state regimes. According to the LO representatives, refugee immigrants are excluded from the Swedish labor market due to reasons such as lack of language skills, discriminatory unemployment and segregated housing conditions. The results show that there is a lack of strategies used by LO to integrate refugee immigrants on the labor market, although elements of providing information and forms of influence for conscientizing and empowerment have been identified. Removing administrative barriers combined with protection of collective agreements and the solidary welfare state system are identified as important for a successful integration on the labor market. The findings are related to the shift of Sweden’s welfare state, from a universal to a more liberal one.
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