Arbetets relationer och etniska dimensioner : Verkstadsföreningen, Metall och esterna vid Svenska Stålpressnings AB i Olofström 1945-1952

Sammanfattning: Labour migration to Sweden is analysed from a labour perspective. As regards theory, the thesis focuses on how class and ethnicity intersect in a capitalistic setting, but it also gives attention to gender and age as structural principles. The main purpose is to analyse migrants in Sweden as a party in the relationship between labour and capital, and to explore how the immigration and the active recruitment of workers in other countries affected and was affected by the relative strengths of the parties on the labour market, covering the period 1945–1952. The relationship between labour and capital, regarding migration-related issues, is analysed from above and below on both national and local level, and the thesis discerns how the state mediated between the parties. It examines the first encounters between foreign-born and native-born workers at shop-floor level, how these encounters affected the relationship between the trade union and the industrial management concerned, and explores how all this, in turn, affected the relationship between the national parties on the Swedish labour market. A structural perspective is combined with micro analyses of narratives from the actors involved, which opens up for a study of the history of society. Firstly, the thesis addresses the relationship between the Swedish Engineering Employers’ Association and the Swedish Metalworkers’ Union, and secondly it is a local workplace study, focusing on Svenska Stålpressnings AB in Olofström (the Swedish Steel Pressing Company). The more precise focus of attention is on war refugees from Estonia employed by the company in Olofström between 1945 and 1947, and on Estonians recruited directly from West German refugee camps in the early 1950s. The study reveals that the Metalworkers’ Union at first opposed labour recruitment abroad – at both national and local level –, but also how coincident interests developed between labour, capital and the state regarding labour immigration. An important finding is that the Metalworkers’ Union had great influence considering which companies would be allowed to recruit foreign-born workers, and that the trade union could direct the migrations to workplaces with acceptable staff policies. A fundamental research problem for the thesis is, furthermore, how social groups construct ethnic boundaries between “us” and “the others”. It is stressed that Estonians’ background experiences and social memories differed from those of the Swedish workers, and that these differences affected the outcomes of the first encounters. But it is also pointed out that the Estonian group was internally divided, with a basis in interwar Estonian political history and in disparate class backgrounds among the Estonians.