Part-time workers, the temporary employed and the self-employed are less likely to be union members than people with regular jobs. Research suggests that this is not because they do not want to be in a union, but, among other things, because they are less likely to have a union present at their workplace. Also, the costs of organising non-standard workers may be higher, because they are more difficult to reach and may be working in sectors where there is more employer resistance to unions.
In a paper published by the European Trade Union Institute, Kurt Vandaele and Janine Leschke describe how unions in Germany and the Netherlands are adopting the organising approach of American and British unions. They also describe other innovations such as the creation of FNV-affiliated unions of the self-employed and the FNV Jong youth network.
The paper suggests that innovations have so far not been sufficiently substantial to make a difference. Institutional embeddedness may slow down union renewal.
Incidentally, the paper was written before the success of the Dutch cleaners’ strike became evident. The cleaners’ campaign is part of a broader effort by FNV Bondgenoten to organise low-wage workers.
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