The struggle to organize trade unions in the Swedish police force started in the end of the 19th century. Every attempt though, was efficiently blocked by the chief constable. In 1903 the Swedish Police Union was formed.
The most important issues for the union were to establish a pension for all police officers, to raise salaries, to establish police academies and start a magazine for police officers.
Another very important issue was to persuade the Government to pass a law improving work conditions and terms of employment for police officers. This was not accomplished until 1925. It gave police officers the right to a decent salary and pension, two weeks vacation a year, and a work week of 48 hours.
In the 1930s the Swedish Police Union worked for a nationalization of the Swedish police force, in order to achieve equality of salaries. In 1964 nationalization became reality and the Swedish Police Union no longer had to set salaries on the municipal/county level.
During these years the Swedish Police Union suffered disruptions within the organization. Different groups left the union to form their own unions. These internal struggles were mainly a problem between big towns and the provinces but also a problem among different levels in the police force.
After the second world war the dominant issue was salary. Conflicts and strikes were common and the police were condemned by the press. In 1961 the two existing police unions agreed on a common salary offer. This outcome was the best in the history of the Swedish Police Union.
Strengthened positions of the trade unions
In the 1970s the trade unions in Sweden strengthened their positions thanks to new legislation that improved the role of the union representatives. They were able to work full time for the union and were paid by the police force. Since then, the Swedish Police Union has actively worked to increase skills and expertise at all levels in the organization. Union education has been of great importance. It remains an important issue for the Swedish Police Union to defend the rights of their members. It is as important to defend what has been achieved during the last 100 years as it is to strive for even better conditions for police officers in the future.