General Labour Federation of Belgium

The General Labour Federation of Belgium (French: Fédération Générale du Travail de Belgique, or FGTB; Dutch: Algemeen Belgisch Vakverbond, ABVV) is a socialist national trade union federation in Belgium. It was founded in 1945. It is affiliated with the International Trade Union Confederation and has a membership of 1.5 million. With said membership the ABVV/FGTB is the second largest of the three major trade unions in Belgium, closely following the Confederation of Christian Trade Unions (ACV/CSC) which has 1.6 million members and dwarfing the General Confederation of Liberal Trade Unions of Belgium (ACLVB/CGSLB) which has approximately 300,000 members.[1] During the bulk of its history the ABVV/FGTB remained closely affiliated with the Belgian Socialist Party which was split in 1978 into a Flemish and a Walloon social-democratic party. While remaining formally independent from any political party, the ABVV/FGTB noticed the increasing influence by the marxist Workers' Party of Belgium amongst its active base during the last decade.[2]

General Labour Federation of Belgium
FGTB (French) or ABVV (Dutch)
General Labour Federation of Belgium
Fédération Générale du Travail de Belgique
Algemeen Belgisch Vakverbond
Fédération Générale du Travail de Belgique - Algemeen Belgisch Vakverbond (logo).png
PredecessorBelgian Trade Union Federation
Founded29 April 1945
HeadquartersBrussels, Belgium
1.5 million[1]
Key people
Thierry Bodson, chairperson
Miranda Ulens, secretary general
AffiliationsITUC, ETUC, TUAC


The first noteworthy historic date when talking about the history of the ABVV/FGTB is the founding of the Belgian Labour Party (BLP) in 1885. While several socialist organisations already existed beforehand this was the first time that the Belgian socialist movement was largely unified and laid the groundwork for the foundation of the ABVV/FGTB. In 1898 the Syndical Commission was erected within the framework of the BLP and in 1937 this Commission formally became independent from the socialist party, as the Belgian Trade Union Federation. Nonetheless strong ties between the socialist union and the socialist party were maintained until today. After the Second World War in 1945 this independent socialist union became the ABVV/FGTB we know today.[3]

Membership and AffiliatesEdit

In 2017 the ABVV/FGTB had a total of 1,517,968 members divided across its 7 affiliates. Thus Belgium's second largest labour union noticed a modest decline in membership of 17,340 compared to 2016. On the regional level 726,410 of the aforementioned membership comes from Flanders, 600,945 from Wallonia and 190,613 from Brussels.[4]

Union French abbreviation Flemish abbreviation Membership 2015 Membership 2016 Membership 2017[5]
General Union CG AC 432,271 427,517 424,095
Association of Employees, Technicians and Managers SETCa BBTK 424,580 421,922 420,285
General Union of Public Services CGSP ACOD 311,795 309,046 303,062
Union of the Belgian Metal Industry CMB CMB 160,136 156,085 153,233
Food, Hospitality and Services Union HORVAL HORVAL 122,794 123,468 124,214
Belgian Union of Transport Workers UTB BTB 49,831 50,471 51,684
General Labour Federation of Belgium - Youth FGTB - Jeunes ABVV - Jongeren 43,509 46,799 41,395

Former affiliatesEdit

Union French abbreviation Flemish abbreviation Founded Reason no longer affiliated Date[6]
Belgian Union of Tramway and Municipal Transport Workers CBPT BCTBAP 1919 Merged into ACOD 1968
Food Production Van Sina Vansina Vansina 1951 Merged into HORVAL 1955
General Diamond Workers' Association of Belgium ADB 1895 Merged into TVD 1994
Leather Workers' Union 1919 Merged into AC 1953
Paper and Publishing Industry Union CLP CBP 1944 Merged into BBTK and AC 1996
Textile-Clothing-Diamond Union TVD TKD 1994 Merged into AC 2014
Tobacco Workers' Union 1909 Merged into AC 1954
Union of Mineworkers of Belgium CSTMB NCMB 1889 Merged into AC 1994
Union of Belgian Stoneworkers COPB 1889 Merged into AC 1965
Union of Belgian Textile Workers COTB TACB 1898 Merged into TVD 1994
Union of Clothing Workers and Kindred Trades in Belgium CVPS CKAVB 1908 Merged into TVD 1994

Walloon movementEdit

Through the foundation of the Mouvement populaire wallon during the Great Strike that took place in the Winter 1960-1961, the Walloon working class now also demanded federalism as well as structural reforms. The leader of the Strike, André Renard was also a national leader of the General Labour Federation of Belgium.[7] This whole process will be named Renardism.


General SecretariesEdit

1945: Joseph Bondas
1947: Paul Finet
1952: Louis Major
1968: Georges Debunne
1982: Alfred Delourme
1987: Jean Gayetot
1989: Mia De Vits
2002: André Mordant
2004: Xavier Verboven
2006: Anne Demelenne
2014: Marc Goblet
2017: Robert Vertenueil
2018: Miranda Ulens


1956: Roger Dekeyzer
1957: Willy Schugens
1958: Alfons Baeyens
1959: Hervé Brouhon
1960: Emiel Janssens
1961: Joseph Dedoyard
1963: Victor Thijs
1964: Oscar Leclercq
1965: Desiré Van Daele
1966: Louis Plumier
1967: Gust Wallaert
1982: André Vanden Broucke
1989: François Janssens
1995: Michel Nollet
2002: Mia De Vits
2004: André Mordant
2006: Rudy De Leeuw
2018: Robert Vertenueil
2020: Thierry Bodson

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b "Belg blijft de vakbond trouw". De Standaard.
  2. ^ "Bpost, een godsgeschenk voor de PVDA/PTB | De Standaard".
  3. ^ "Geschiedenis van het ABVV in een notendop | Vlaams ABVV - Socialistische vakbond in Vlaanderen - Algemeen Belgisch Vakverbond ABVV".
  4. ^ "Statistics table". Retrieved 2020-10-02.
  5. ^ Ledenaantal. Brussels: ABVV/FGTB. 2017.
  6. ^ Ebbinghaus, Bernhard; Visser, Jelle (2000). Trade Unions in Western Europe Since 1945. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 130–132. ISBN 0333771125.
  7. ^ Chantal Kesteloot, Growth of the Walloon Movement, in Nationalism in Belgium, MacMillan, London, 1998, pp. 139-152, p. 150.


  • ICTUR; et al., eds. (2005). Trade Unions of the World (6th ed.). London, UK: John Harper Publishing. ISBN 0-9543811-5-7.

External linksEdit