Sweden: It will be cheaper to join the trade unions next year

The Swedish labour movement cheers as the government has decided that trade union fees will be made deductible from tax again. From 1st of July 2018 trade union members will be allowed to deduct around ¼ of their membership fees from their income, which will lower their tax around 120 Euros per year.

The previous right wing government removed this incentive in 2007 and increased fees to unemployment funds which resulted in big drop in union density as Swedish trade unions lost many members over a five years’ period. Currently the trade union density in the private sector is fairly stable around 68%, but much lower in service sectors such as the hotels and restaurants with around 38% union density.

For many workers within the hotel and restaurant industry with insecure working schedule, part time jobs and low wages this action by the Swedish Red Green government will be an important incentive for joining a trade union as the financial barrier will be reduced. It will be cheaper to join a union, which should make it easier HRF to recruit new members and increase membership again after many years of decline. NU HRCT welcomes this important step for our members in Sweden, but would like to see that fees to unemployment fund will also made deductible from taxes.

Various systems in the Nordic region

In the Nordic countries there are several of different rules regarding deduction of membership fees from tax. In Iceland and Norway, trade union members are not able to deduct their membership fees from tax. Still this topic is currently on the agenda in Norway as the labour party has made promises in the ongoing election campaign, that they want to allow trade union members the possibility to deduct their membership fees from tax. The Norwegian labour movement has asked for these kind of incentives as union density in Norway is only around 50%. In Iceland everyone that works in sectors covered by national trade union agreements are obliged to pay fee to a trade union, irrespective if they join a union or not. Currently there is around 90% union density in Iceland and a tax incentive would not serve a purpose.

In Finland and Denmark trade union members are able to deduct their union fees from tax. Union members in both of those countries can deduct around 800 Euros annually for union fees and fees to unemployment benefit funds. 


Nordisk Union
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The Nordic Union for Hotel, Restaurant, Catering and Tourism sector, is an association of unions in Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Denmark, all of which unionise workers of the HRCT industry. The member unions have all made collective agreements with employers organizations and companies in the NU HRCT.

All in all NU HRCT covers seven unions with a total of about 115,000 members.