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HomeHealthThe Plight of Sweden's Retail Workers: Illness and Financial Struggle

The Plight of Sweden’s Retail Workers: Illness and Financial Struggle

Fighting Illness and Financial Strain: The Plight of Sweden’s Retail Workers


Astonishing new insights reveal an underreported issue in Swedish society: the sick, yet persistently working, retail workforce. A study, spearheaded by trade unionist Cecilia Berggren, found that seven out of ten retail workers have labored through illness in the past year. The backdrop of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic only underscores the gravity of this issue, highlighting the risks to public health, both for the workers themselves and the wider population.

Busy Bees in a Crisis

Amid crisis or warfare, crucial responsibilities rest on the shoulders of warehouse and retail workers, whose roles entail ensuring that essential supplies, such as food and medicine, are still within Swedes’ reach. However, these workers, who form a core part of Swedish society, are persistently under threat due to poor working conditions, inadequate healthcare, and financial insecurities.

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The Whys Behind the Working Sick

A closer look into the report shows a compelling narrative. It primarily points out two main reasons behind the high rate of “sickness absenteeism”, where sick workers still choose to work. First, the unwillingness to burden their coworkers drives many ill retail employees to work. Second, the financial constraints make taking sick leaves an unaffordable luxury. These reasons speak volumes about the societal and economic pressures faced by this group.

Note: The report also mentions that employees in precarious jobs and temporary positions are more likely to come to work while sick, sighting the fear of job loss as the main reason.

Pushing for Better Conditions

While this may come across as just another union report lobbying for better conditions, it’s essential to recognize the wider implications of such negligence. Unprotected and under-resourced, these workers, particularly warehouse staffers, play a critical role in case of major crises or warfare scenarios, ensuring the continued supply of life-essential goods. Therefore, their health and well-being are of paramount importance, for the good both of themselves and of society as a whole.


This study conveys a resounding message: A change in the working conditions of retail employees is much needed. In a society as modern and progressive as Sweden’s, it is troubling that seven out of ten retail workers have no choice but to work while sick. This issue is one of public health, of workers’ rights, and of societal responsibility. Let’s hope for a future where ill employees can afford to rest and recuperate without the fear of financial strain or job loss – a future where the welfare of workers is not merely an afterthought, but a priority.

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