This Swedish ad helps robots get parental leave and work-life balance

An ad campaign for a Swedish trade union confederation has become an unlikely viral hit thanks to its imaginative portrayal of robots demanding better working conditions and parental leave.

This Swedish ad helps robots get parental leave and work-life balance
Even robots like meatballs, according to this Swedish video. Photo: TCO

In principle, a video about the “Swedish system for industrial relations” may not sound like a recipe for an instant internet hit, but the Swedish Confederation of Professional Employees (TCO) has pulled it off, managing to chalk up over 113,600 Youtube views for a video on that very subject in the space of 24 hours.

The video set in the near future shows a variety of artificial intelligence equipped robots banding together and forming a union, then demanding benefits like a retirement plan and Sweden’s famously generous parental leave.

Judging by the steady flow of Youtube views, it’s a hit. Asked why, TCO project manager Per Karlberg told The Local he believes it’s “a combination between the fascination with AI and the humorous tone”.

“We can all relate to the bots in the video. Of course they should have some breaks and go for a vacation every once in a while! Another factor is that viewers from outside of Sweden find the Swedish work environment pretty unreal – is it really possible to get parental leave, six weeks’ vacation and a retirement plan? Yes it is, and we have the ‘Swedish Part Model’ to thank for that,” he added.

For anyone wondering what the “Swedish Part Model” is, according to TCO, it's another term for the “Swedish system of industrial relations” which they thought would be “less nerdy sounding”.

TCO’s Karlberg explained that the point of the video is to show that Sweden’s “system of industrial relations is future proof and will take care of the changes in the Swedish labour market, even the ones expected in the fourth industrial revolution”.

The fourth industrial revolution, also known as Industry 4.0, described the trend of emerging technology breakthroughs in fields like AI, robots and autonomous vehicles.

TCO has even gone as far as creating a real life version of the AI head of the robot union shown in the video, “Clever Botson”, and is encouraging users to interact with it.

Clever Botson would rather talk about employment agreements than C-3PO and R2-D2. Photo: The Local's screengrab

So far, The Local’s attempts to stimulate the robot have only resulted in answers telling us it can talk about employment agreements, holidays, and other work-related issues. Clever probably isn’t the kind of robot you want to take on a wild night out.

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EXPLAINED: When can a child sit in the front seat of a car in Switzerland?

Babies and children must be safely secured in a child’s car seat designed for their weight and age group whenever they travel in a car in Switzerland. We look at the rules around driving with children.

EXPLAINED: When can a child sit in the front seat of a car in Switzerland?

In Switzerland, a simple rule for taking children in motor vehicles has been in place for a good two decades: Every child up to a height of 150 cm or the age of 12 must travel in a suitable child seat.

Its Austrian neighbour has even stricter rules in place. Babies and children in Austria must be correctly secured in a child’s seat up to the age of 14 if they are below 135 cm in height.

The German law takes a more relaxed approach and regulates that children from the age of 12 or those that are taller than 150 cm can ride in the vehicle without a child seat – with the appropriate seat belt, of course.

When can a child sit in the front?

According to the law in Switzerland, once a child has reached a height of 150 cm, they can sit anywhere in the car with or without a child or booster seat.

However, a child needs to reach a minimum height of 150 cm for the safety belts to guarantee their safety in a way that the neck is not constricted while driving in the event of sudden braking or an accident.

In principle, children are allowed to sit on the front passenger seat regardless of their age, however, this is not recommended by experts who argue that children are much safer in the back of the car. Furthermore, if a vehicle is equipped with airbags, rear-facing car seats may only be used if the front airbag on the passenger’s side is deactivated.

A driver at the Stelvio Pass, Santa Maria Val Müstair, Switzerland.

A driver at the Stelvio Pass, Santa Maria Val Müstair, Switzerland. Photo by Jaromír Kavan on Unsplash

Can I be fined for my child travelling without an appropriate car seat?

You can and you will. The fine for transporting an unsecured child under the age of 12 is 60 francs, which, given the risk driving without an appropriate child seat poses to your child’s life, is mild. 

But what about public transport?

Though this may seem illogical to some, Switzerland does not have any safety laws dictating that car seats be used on its buses, meaning it is not uncommon to see mothers standing in the aisle of a packed bus with a baby in a sling while struggling to hold on to a pole for stability.

Though politicians did briefly discuss equipping buses with baby and child seats in 2017 to avoid potential risks to minors, nothing came of it. Ultimately, supplying buses with special seats or introducing seat belts proved unrealistic given the number of seats and considering how often people hop on and off a bus – there is a stop almost every 300 metres in Switzerland.

Instead, drivers are now better informed of the dangers posed to minors travelling on their vehicles and parents are advised to leave children in strollers and not load those with heavy shopping bags.