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

Tag Archives: labor


Storyteller #37 – view of the mine growing up


This storyteller, born and raised in Kiruna, working as “Summerbird”, reflects on the image of the mine when growing up (the image heading the post is by artist Magnus Fredriksson). It has been a very romanticized picture of the mine. The pride of working there. It was quite … It was awesome when you were a child, I remember going outside the gate, waiting for Dad to finish [work], and […]

Storyteller #35 – the union and the Summerbirds


Every Summer, LKAB hires several hundreds of so-called “Summerbirds”; people – often young persons who have a break from their studies – that come in to work for a couple of months when ordinary staff are on vacation. As the trend of temporary workers is on the rise in general (although LKAB today work towards decreasing the use of ‘foreign services’), it is interesting to also turn the attention to […]

Storyteller #33 – work vs community?


Next storyteller is one of the ombudsmen inside the gates, reflecting on the recurrent theme of people doing work in the Kiruna mine but living (and paying taxes) elsewhere: It would be better if they move up, then there might have been more lively here [as in more pulse in the local community]. And there would also be more tax money in this town. This depletes… But if you get […]

Storyteller #31 – the role of the union


Next storyteller is one of the local ombudsmen for one of the unions. Our conversation is about how he keeps in contact with the members and what they are interested in. Below, he talks about how members tend to enrol the union in a rather short-sighted way: The members are active when there is a wage movement. Or when jobs are threatened. Then they come. […] Very seldom do they […]

A unique workplace


They’re not easy to find and haven’t been re-issued, the 4×400 pages doctoral dissertation in economic history by Ulf Eriksson, entitled “Gruva och arbete. Kiirunavaara 1890-1990” (in Swedish, translated as “Mine and work. Kiirunavaara 1890-1990”). Published and defended in 1991 at Uppsala University, Eriksson (from Kiruna) presents an impressive, predominantly empirical, labour process history from inside the gates of the Kiruna mine. We have once again got our hands on […]

Storyteller #27 – an offer you can resist…


Next storyteller works for an employment agency in the Kiruna region. We talked about how they worked with recruitment for the mining sector in and around Kiruna, and how that oftentimes involves not only a potential miner but also his/her family. – This issue with ”tandem recruitment”, that we work with… – What’s that? – Well, oftentimes you work with, as in Kiruna for example, getting people to move here […]

Storyteller #23 – if I was the CEO…


Next storyteller is a man from Kiruna who have worked a long time above ground for the company, LKAB. During our conversation, the new CEO, Jan Moström, is brought up. It’s turbulent because Moström, here he comes and, listen now, this is brilliant, because Moström is known as “The Butcher”, but no one has felt any butchering. I use to say in the sauna after [work], I use to say that […]

Storyteller #14 – on unions and strikes


Storyteller #14 is a man working above ground for over twenty years at LKAB in Kiruna. Below is an extract from our conversation where we talk about the worker collective and the role of the union. – That time, around 1969/70 (the time of the big strike, spontaneously started by a worker in Svappavaara, not a strike organised by the union), when they began getting power over the workers, and when […]

Undermining gender


Johan has read “Mining coal and undermining gender: rhythms of work and family in the American west” by Jessica Smith Rolston (Rutgers University Press, 2014). Here are some of his reflections: At the outset of our project we knew that gender would play an important role, particularly given the history and context of the Kiruna mine (also for the Saskatchewan-case). There’s almost a mythology around the miner, a man of few […]

Spatial divisions of labour


We think that it is always of great interest to read a so-called classic book. Doreen Massey’s book Spatial Divisions of Labour (social structures and the geography of production) is definitely a social science classic and a relevant one for our project (Palgrave, second edition, 1984/1995). In Tommy’s words: Massey is for me a rather demanding author; not that the language is tricky, nor the analysis exceptionally complicated. The demanding part […]

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 […]

Precarious times


Working life in the mine is not turbulent at the moment, not at all, but due to the current re-organization it’s very precarious, uncertain, insecure, unreliable, unsure, unpredictable… This is not only the case for blue collar workers and white collar workers in service positions who are unsure of where employments will be cut (cause there’ll be cut downs), but also for managers, particularly middle managers. At LKAB in Kiruna, […]

Working hard or hardly working?


On March 18, local newspapers report that two workers at LKAB:s iron ore mine in Malmberget (125 km from Kiruna) have been caught furnishing a secret sleeping room at work. On March 26, they are fired. Two other workers chose to resign. On March 20, we arrive in Kiruna, and the first person we meet is the man delivering the rental car. He is born and raised in Kiruna, and […]

Aboriginals and the labour process (part 4)


Two short questions are still left hanging from my visit to MCA in Saskatchewan and from reading the CVMPP-reports: What about the contractors? In the reports, contractors are not really dealt with, but they still represent a significant part of the labour process. Just as on site, they had their rooms in a building beside the Cameco employees, but they shared the other facilities (restaurant, wellness facilities etc.). Interestingly, most […]