Christelijk Nationaal Vakverbond

The Christelijk Nationaal Vakverbond (English: National Federation of Christian Trade Unions in the Netherlands; CNV) is a federation of trade unions of the Netherlands.

Christelijk Nationaal Vakverbond (logo).png
Full nameNational Federation of Christian Trade Unions in the Netherlands
Native nameChristelijk Nationaal Vakverbond
Founded13 May 1909
AffiliationITUC, ETUC
Office locationUtrecht, The Netherlands


The CNV was founded on 13 May 1909, in Arnhem as a federation of several Christian unions. It was founded in reaction to the socialist NVV, which was founded in 1906. The CNV was more moderate than the NVV. It opposed the idea of class struggle and instead oriented itself towards a corporatist model of the economy. It was an interconfessional union, intended to represent both Protestant and Roman Catholic workers.

In 1912, however, the Roman Catholic bishops spoke out against interconfessional unions. All Roman Catholics left CNV and founded a separate Roman Catholic union, the RKWV "Rooms-Katholieke Werklieden Verbond" (Roman Catholic Workers' Union). The CNV orientated itself towards the Protestant Anti-Revolutionary Party, with which it formed the Protestant pillar.

After World War II, the corporatist model, which the CNV advocated was introduced in the Netherlands, this was combined with a strong welfare state. Unions received more influence in Dutch politics: the CNV became part of the Social-Economic Council an advisory board of government composed of representatives from unions, employers' organisations and independent scientists.

Because of the depillarisation of Dutch society and the rising political polarisation between left and right, the three major unions, the socialist NVV, the Protestant CNV and the Catholic NKV began to open talks in order to found one single federation of Dutch unions. In 1974 the CNV left those talks. In 1976 the NVV and NKV merged to form the FNV, which was led by Wim Kok.


The most important function of CNV is the CAO-talks, over wages and secondary working conditions, it holds with the employers' federations. It also advises government via the Social Economic Council in which other unions, the employers' organisations and government appointed experts also have seats.


The CNV started out as a moderate, Christian-democratic union, which was opposed to class struggle and workers' ownership of the means of production. Gradually, however, it oriented itself towards cooperation with the employers' organisations and a corporatist model of the economy. The CNV still prefers cooperating with employers over strikes.

In recent years it has been more successful in adapting to new societal trends compared to the FNV[citation needed]. It has founded a youth union, CNV-jongeren to address the issues of the ageing population and it has campaigned on issues of international cooperation with a separate organisation called CNV international.


The CNV is a federation of six affiliated trade unions. Its board is formed by four daily boardmembers (a chairman, a vice-chairman, a secretary and a treasurer), and the chairs of the four affiliated unions. The CNV has around 355,000 members. The current chair is Maurice Limmen. Although the CNV is formally independent of other organisations there are strong ideological and personal links with the CDA. Former CNV vice chair Aart-Jan de Geus served between 2002 and 2007 as CDA minister of Social Affairs and Employment for instance.

The eight affiliated unions are:

  • CNV Vakmensen: the industrial, construction and woodwork union with around 110,000 members;
  • CNV Public: which represents the interests of civil servants and healthcare personnel. It has around 84,000 members;
  • CNV Onderwijs: the teachers' union with around 56,000 members;
  • CNV Dienstenbond: the services union with around 32,000 members;
  • CNV Kostersbond: which represents those employed by the church;
  • CNV Jongeren: the young people's union with around 1,300 members.

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