Saab History

Stories from SAAB – Pia started in SAAB production at the age of 16 in 1988

Pia Åkesson, employed at SAAB in Trollhättan between 1988 and 1998 in production and later also trade union at SAAB, explains how she, at the age of 16, began working on SAAB.

As a citizen of the city of Trollhättan, Pia Åkesson planned to work as a 16-year-old in SAAB for a few months in 1988, and then began his upper secondary studies at the following spring term. She therefore departed to Stallbacka industrial area and to SAAB, and was offered employment.

In this excerpt from the recorded interview with Pia, you will find, among other things, memories of the recruitment process and the introductory week for employees and an insight into a regular day on the “Saab production line”. 

She worked at Saab in Trollhattan between 1988 and 1998, and continue to read her testimony about the СААБ company from that time: “I had completed my elementary school studies, an was about to enroll in high school. But the term wasn’t sto start util spring. Generally, at this period in time (1988) you could simply visit SAAB in Trollhattan and ask for a job – and you would be hired. The plan was to work for half a year, until I was to start studying again.
But I stayed at SAAB, and all of a sudden ten years had passed. SAAB had a large employment office. You simply visited them and said – I wan a job. And a job I was promised. The following week the employment introduction started. By then, they realized that theyhad overlooked that I was only 16 years old.

She continues her exposure: “As I metioned, at this time one could get employed quite easily. And being 16 year old, one wasn’t allowed to operate heavy machinery in the work place – so they found me a suitable postion in the car assembly production line, an there I started to work. The work place introduction period lasted for a full week. You where introduced to the work place, the manager, the union representatives. They all had  their individual day of introduction. One got a very good introduction.

Pia Åkesson and Saab 9000
Pia Åkesson and Saab 9000

How was your assigned department at the production line decides on?  – “Generally, employees were needed everywhere in the production department. They could for example as if you knew someone that you’d like to work with, or if you had a particular preferred task. But for me specifically, I needed to be in a position where I was not to operate any heavy machinery (due to age). When I starded working, I worked day shift. But, during later years this changed, The position did not change, but the working hours did.

I started working at the A-assembly production line at SAAB. A1 where I worked was right after the paint shop. I installed a lot of the components closest to the car’s body work: cable harnesses, ABS systems etc.  Time slot was 4 minutes per car. After 4 minutes, a new car arrived. The day’s work was divided – you could spend the morning installing the antenna cable at one section, the afternoon installing ABS-systems in another section. There was a bit of change… but early on, many preferred to keep their specific sections to themselves. Because if you learned to handle the work load  efficiently, you could work ahead, and thereby get a few minutes of time that could bi spent playing cards with the co-workers, for example.

I built SAAB 9000, The cars kept coming. The specifications was listed a paper accompanying the car. Me and the colleges always guessed the country the cars were to be exported to by color of the car. If you happened to be a bit bored, you could place a frendly bet against the nearby colleague. Swedes for example liked a specific green color on their cars during a time. A relly nice color! When one spotted many of these, you knew that many SAAB’s had been sold in Sweden.

The English cars were often brown or beige. Nothing that really stood out, color wise. The US market ordered black or red cars.  In general, when there had been a major Ad campaign. The colors of the cars of the ads – they did sell. Perhaps many did not consider allthe other available colors. They liked the cars they had seen in the Ads.
Now… I did cheat at times. I have exellent eye sight, so at times  I was able to spot the specification paper accompanying the car from a distance. So sometimes I could actually read out “GB” (Great Britain) from the paper from a far, but I was never caught…

Read more about Innovatum’s documentation project about SAAB here .

Leave a Reply