Sunday, 24 June 2012

Plans for new Dutch union structure presented

On Saturday, plans have been presented for a new organisation to replace the FNV confederation within a year. The new organisation is to have a Member Parliament consisting of directly elected union members and a directly elected president.

In an earlier version of the plan, large unions would be replaced with smaller sector unions, because some think workers will more readily identify with unions that operate in just one sector. Others objected that cutting up large unions would put an end to inter-sector solidarity (i.e. richer sectors helping fund campaigns to organise groups such as cleaners) and to effective political campaigns. Some had hoped the entire confederation structure would be replaced with a single organisation.

According to the current plan, large unions will remain intact and will have the option to intensify their collaboration, while simultaneously setting up smaller sector units with substantial autonomy within their organisations.

FNV Jong, the youth network of the FNV, will be changed into an autonomous organisation with members.

Ton Heerts was presented as the new president of the FNV. He will be in office for one year, after which the first president of the new organisation will be elected. Heerts has a background in military unions and has been a member of the FNV board as well as a social democrat Member of Parliament. Current president Agnes Jongerius decided to step down because her goal of initiating union renewal has been achieved. Fellow board member Peter Gortzak also decided to step down.

Three current FNV affiliates, most notably senior citizens’ organisation ANBO (180,000 members), declined to sign the agreement for the new union structure and may leave the FNV. The unions that did sign the agreement represent 1.2 million members.

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