tommy.jensen@sbs.su.se johan.sandstrom@ltu.se

Different stories about the collective


Early on in the project we talked to workers and managers that had worked at the Kiruna mine for a long time. Among the topics discussed was whether or not there is a worker collective today; in a deeper sense than in terms of union membership. A collective who can collectively agree that they have had enough and from that act in unison.

At the time the story we heard (thus interpreted) was a story that sung along the chords of individualism; young people today are more individualistic, want to earn good money and go do fun things in their leisure time. They want pleasure, which does not rule out that they can work hard, it means that they have individual life expectations on and off work.

Recently, however, we’ve come across another tune. The experienced workers we’ve met recently counter this view, arguing that if pressed, there is still a very strong collective, comparable to the generation of 1969 (the famous Kiruna strike). One reason for this shift in tune and song might stem from the fact that the present time is precarious. The iron ore market are down, focus is on cost reductions (from expansion to defense), efficiency seeking re-organization, lay-offs etc. This implies increasing pressure on workers and what we may hear is actually the first signs of that enough is enough.


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