Tens of thousands of people joined a trade union in the Netherlands last year, helping to offset the decline in union membership, news website Nu.nl reported on Friday.
All three trade union foundations report an increase in membership, with the biggest, the FNV, saying it had 60,000 new members in 2023.
“It is largely pensioners who cancel their membership,” a spokesman told the website. “Some days we are getting 400, 500 new members. It is the first time we have had a positive result in years.”
The FNV is the biggest trade union group in the Netherlands with over one million members.
The smaller CNV declined to give total figures but said it had seen a 5% growth in members up to the age of 25. In total, membership is up by several thousand, the union said.
“An increasing number of people understand the relevance of a union, particularly youngsters and the over-45s,” said chairman Piet Fortuin. “People have seen that unions do make a difference at the negotiating table.”
Last year unions were instrumental in winning high pay rises in many sectors because of the impact of soaring inflation on spending power, and a number of high profile strikes.
Figures from employers advisory group AWVN suggest the Dutch had an average salary increase of 7.1% in 2023.
De Unie, the smallest federation which focuses on white-collar jobs, said over 4,000 people had joined last year, taking total membership to over 34,000.
Nevertheless, union membership is still on a downward trend. Some 1,440,000 people were members of a union last year, compared with 1940,000 in 1999.
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