Dutch labor unions lose over 100,000 members in two years

Unionized janitorial workers during a labor protest
Unionized janitorial workers during a labor protest at Den Haag Centraal. Oct. 15, 2011Photo: Floris de Jong / FNV Bondgenoten

Trade unions in the Netherlands lost 101 thousand members over the past two years, the fourth largest fall since the start of this measurement in 1901. Union membership is now at its lowest level since 1988, Statistics Netherlands reports.

At the end of March this year, 1.6 million people were members of a trade union, a 6 percent decrease compared to 2017. Both male and female membership decreased by around 6 percent, to 984 thousand male members and 618 thousand female members. 

The number of union members decreased in all age groups, but especially among young people up to the age of 25 years, minus 29 percent. In the age group 25 to 45 years there was a just over 6 percent drop. The decrease was smallest in the ague group 45 to retirement age at minus 2 percent. 

Half of all workers who do not belong to a trade union told the stats office that they have never seriously considered membership. 13 percent said that unions have no influence on their employment conditions, 8 percent said membership was too expensive, and another 8 percent said that unions do not stand up for their interest. 

"That is still a very large group for the trade unions in the Netherlands to convince and there is therefore still plenty of room for growth", union FNV said to RTL Nieuws.