L.O. Smith’s workers’ groups take shape

L.O. Smith felt constantly annoyed by the dominance and power of the upper class. He never forgot where he came from. In the 1880s, he gathered a group of politically interested workers to discuss how they could strengthen their position. They listened to what he had to say and started organizing themselves in workers’ groups. The purpose of the groups was simply to improve living conditions, and soon enough, their efforts started to pay off.

Smith was offered the role of chairman at the workers’ bank in Stockholm. He demanded to be elected unanimously. At the first meeting, the participants responded by shouting, clapping their hands and stamping their feet.

Smith’s ambition was to improve the economy of individual workers. One of his proposals was to make post offices into banks, as he had seen in many other countries. Thanks to better geographical spread and longer opening hours, the post banks would make it easier for workers to start saving regularly.

In 1883, his suggestion was presented to the Swedish king, who created a bill to have post banks established. It took a while before the bill was put in place. By then, prime minister Robert Themptander rather than Smith was credited with the initiative.