Biggest union group dips under one million members

The biggest Dutch trade union federation has dipped under one million members, the organisation says on its website, but still claims three times as many members as all the Dutch political parties combined.

Some one in five workers are now thought to be members of a trade union, down from one in three in the 1980s. However, just 5% of the under-25s are members.

The FNV, however, says it is adding between 2,500 and 5,000 new members a month, most of whom are ‘young’. In addition, its finances are ‘healthy’, the union says.

In the Netherlands, trade unions have a key role in collective wage bargaining. They have a seat on the government’s SER advisory board alongside the employers and are involved in reaching ‘accords’ on new government strategy as diverse as reforming the pension system and climate change.

The FNV federation, formed in 1976 following a merger between the Catholic NKV and the social-democratic NVV, has 14 sector-based FNV unions and 14 affiliated unions, covering the complete spectrum of Dutch industry.

The second biggest Dutch union federation, the CNV, refused to join the 1976 merger and went it alone. Originally for Protestants, the CNV has 355,000 members.

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