Federation of Dutch Trade Unions

The Federation of Dutch Trade Unions (Dutch: Federatie Nederlandse Vakbeweging, FNV) is a national trade union centre in the Netherlands. In addition to member unions, workers in many sectors can join the FNV directly.

Dutch Federation of Trade Unions
Federatie Nederlandse Vakbeweging
AffiliationsITUC, ETUC


The FNV was founded in 1976 from the merger of the Dutch Catholic Trade Union Federation (NKV) and the social-democratic Dutch Confederation of Trade Unions (NVV). The Protestant Christian National Trade Union Federation (CNV) originally also participated in the talks, but it refused to fully merge into a new union. The federation was founded because of declining membership, due to depillarisation and increasing political polarisation between left and right. The first president of the FNV was Wim Kok, who had been chair of NVV since 1973. He remained its leader until 1986, when he entered parliament for the Dutch Labour Party. The NKV and the NVV dissolved themselves into the FNV at the start of 1982.

The FNV was crucial in the economic recovery in the Netherlands during the 1980s. It supported the so-called Wassenaar Agreement, where employee accepted lower wages in exchange for more employment. During the 1990s the FNV came into a heavy conflict over reforms of the WAO, the disabled act, with the cabinet Lubbers-III, in which the party's former chair, Kok, was vice-prime minister. The proposals were consequently dropped.

In the 2000s the FNV came into conflict with the Second Balkenende cabinet over the AOW, the old aged act, and the WAO, the disabilities act. A huge protest was organized in Amsterdam in 2004. The FNV became a leading member in "Keer het Tij" (Turn the Tide) an alliance of social organizations that opposed the cabinet and became involved in organizing the Dutch Social Forum, the Dutch branch of the World Social Forum in 2004 and 2006.

In 2012 the FNV almost split due to a conflict between the more radical wing and the moderates on the issue of pensions. The split was averted, but led to a complete overhaul of the organizational model of the FNV. In late 2014, the largest three affiliates of the FNV, the Allied Union, Construction and Wood Union, and Abvakabo, dissolved into the federation.


The FNV started out as a neutral union but has a strong social-democratic orientation and strong links with the social-democratic PvdA. It is critical of both government and employers, but is also heavily incorporated in the Dutch pillarist (corporatist) system. Compared to the CNV, the other major trade union centre, the FNV is more leftwing and has more often used strikes, although the use of these actions is rare in the Netherlands in comparison to other European countries.

Although the FNV is formally independent of other organizations there are strong ideological and personal links with the social-democratic PvdA in what is known as the pillarisation. Former FNV chair Wim Kok served as Prime Minister of the Netherlands, between 1994 and 2002. Politicians from other Dutch parties also have their background in FNV, former leader of the Dutch GreenLeft Paul Rosenmöller was one of the leaders of the FNV in the Rotterdam harbours.


The most important function of FNV are the collective bargaining negotiations, on wages and secondary working conditions, it holds with the employers' federations. It also advises government through the Social Economic Council in which other trade unions, employers' organizations and government appointed experts also have seats. FNV also helps members individually when legal action is required. Lawyers of the FNV help members with questions about employment law, pensions, occupational diseases, personal injury, debt collection processes and social security.


The FNV is both a labour union (consisting of different sectors) as well as a labour federation (with affiliated independent unions). Both these sectors and affiliated unions are represented in the FNV parliament, which is directly elected by the membership. The number of seats per sector/affiliated union is determined by their membership in proportion to the total membership of the FNV. The parliament represents the membership, creates "overarching" policy and oversees the board. The parliament also elects the board (except the chairman, who is directly elected by the membership). The current chairman is Tuur Elzinga.


Name Represents Seats in parliament
Bouwen & Wonen Construction and other building trades 4
Diensten Services 6
Handel Retail 4
Industrie & Agrarisch Industry and agriculture 6
Jong Youth 1
Media & Cultuur Printers, designers, packaging industry 1
Metaal Metal 7
Overheid Public Sector 8
Publiek Belang Semi-public sector, privatized sectors 3
Senior Seniors 18
Uitkeringsgerechtigden Unemployed and disabled 4
Vervoer Transport 5
Zelfstandigen Self-employed 1
Zorg & Welzijn Healthcare 13


Current affiliatesEdit

Name Abbreviation Founded Represents Seats in parliament Membership (2008)[1]
Association of Contract Players VVCS 1961 Football players 1 N/A
Beauty Union Mooi 1932 Barbers and beauty parlors 1 N/A
Catering Union Horeca 1940 Hotels, recreation and catering 2 25,045
Dutch Community Support Officers' Union NBB 2014 Community support officers 0 N/A
Dutch Police Union NPB 1946 Police 2 23,000
Dutch Union of Journalists NVJ 1884 Journalists 1 9,000
General Education Union AOb 1997 Teachers 8 77,943
General Federation of Military Personnel AFMP 1992 Military 2 24,684
Marechaussee Union MARVER 1907 Marechaussee 1 N/A
Nautilus International Nautilus 2009 Seafaring 1 6,200
NL Athletes NL Sporter 2001 Professional athletes (excluding football players) 1 N/A
Women's Union Vrouw 1981 Women 1 4,202

Former affiliatesEdit

Union Abbreviation Founded Left Reason not affiliated[2] Membership (1982)[3]
Abvakabo ABVA-KABO 1982 2014 Dissolved into FNV 248,778
Allied Union FNV-Bond 1998 2014 Dissolved into FNV N/A
Arts, Information and Media Union KIEM 1998 2016 Dissolved into FNV N/A
Arts Union Kunstenbond 2016 2021 Separated from FNV N/A
Construction and Wood Union B&HB 1982 2014 Dissolved into FNV 168,219
Dutch Catholic Printing Union NKGB 1902 1982 Merged into D&P N/A
Dutch Independent Union of Public and Non-Profit Workers NOVON 1991 1998 Merged into ABVA-KABO N/A
Federation of Maritime Workers FWZ 1967 2009 Merged into Nautilus 6,368
Food Workers' Union VB 1980 1998 Merged into FNV-Bond 50,384
General Pharmacy Assistants' Union AAAB 1890 1984 Merged into DIBO 2,927
General Union of Education Personnel ABOP 1966 1996 Merged into AOB 41,833
General Dutch Printing Union ANGB 1945 1982 Merged into D&P N/A
Industrial Workers' Union IB 1980 1998 Merged into FNV-Bond 273,316
Printing and Paper Union D&P 1982 1998 Merged into KIEM 47,438
Self-Employed Union Zelfstandigen 1999 2017 Dissolved into FNV N/A
Services Union DIBO 1981 1998 Merged into FNV-Bond 70,271
Transport Workers' Union VB 1981 1998 Merged into FNV-Bond 68,790
Union of Military Conscripts VVDM 1966 1996 Dissolved N/A


1976: Wim Kok
1986: Hans Pont
1988: Johan Stekelenburg
1997: Lodewijk de Waal
2005: Agnes Jongerius
2012: Ton Heerts
2017: Han Busker
2021: Tuur Elzinga


  1. ^ Breij, Bert (2008). Twee miljoen leden (PDF). Amsterdam: Vakbondshistorische Vereniging. p. 235. ISBN 978-90-71562-06-8. Retrieved 22 October 2020.
  2. ^ Ebbinghaus, Bernhard; Visser, Jelle (2000). Trade Unions in Western Europe Since 1945. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 463–465. ISBN 0333771125.
  3. ^ Sociale maandstatistiek, vol.31, p.41

External linksEdit