Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Membership growth despite the crisis

Over the past months, FNV-affiliated unions have seen their membership rise somewhat despite the economic crisis. Membership growth seems to have been caused by the ‘Power to...’ media campaign, by specific sectoral initiatives such as the organising campaign in the cleaning sector and by measures to prevent mass unemployment.
The largest union, FNV Bondgenoten, grew by 2,500 members since 1 January 2009 and now has 476,000 members. There is growth in sectors such as metalworking, in which the union has negotiated temporary working time reductions in order to deal with the impact of the crisis. Education campaigns at vocational schools also seem to have contributed to membership growth.
In the cleaning sector, where an assertive organising campaign is being run, a few hundred new members have joined the union. At Schiphol Airport, over 500 cleaners are now affiliated to FNV Bondgenoten. This is remarkable: in a sector which is considered difficult to organise, a union density has been achieved which is very high by Dutch standards.
Even though crisis measures such as temporary working time reductions may boost union membership, it seems unlikely that the crisis as such will have a positive impact. “There are very few indications that a crisis is good for unions”, Professor Paul de Beer (University of Amsterdam) told regional media. “People who are afraid to lose their job turn to the union, but on the other hand, many members quit when they lose their job”.
Last year, FNV-affiliated unions suffered a net loss of 2,750 members. The FNV-affiliated unions of the self-employed did see a substantial growth in membership. As of 1 January 2009, the total FNV membership rose by 180,000 as a result of senior citizens’ union ANBO joining the FNV. FNV-affiliated unions now have almost 1.4 million members.
[Data provided by Floor van Gelder]

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