Fewer trade union members in the workplace

18/09/2012 15:00

Last year, 1.3 million employees (20 percent of all employees) were members of a trade union, versus more than 25 percent in 2000. The trade union membership rate declined more rapidly among men than among women. The rate is relatively low among young people.

Proportion of trade union members among employees reduced by one fifth since 2000

The trade union membership rate, i.e. the proportion of trade union members among employees has declined over the period 2000-2011. In 2000, more than a quarter of employees had joined a trade union versus 20 percent in 2011. The falling rate is caused by a declining number of working trade union members and – at the same time – a growing workforce.

Trade union membership rate employees, 15–65 yrs

Trade union membership rate employees, 15–65 yrs

Male trade union membership rate down

The membership rate among men has declined more rapidly than among women. In 2000, 30 percent of male employees had joined a trade union, as against 23 percent in 2011. The corresponding figures for women were 19 and 17 percent respectively.

Members ageing

Since the beginning of the 21st century, the average age of trade union members has risen. The proportion of over-45s among trade union members has risen from 40 percent in 2000 to 60 percent last year. The share of working trade union members younger than 25 dropped from 6 to 3 percent.

Highest rate in sector public administration

With 34 percent, the highest trade union membership rate in 2011 was found in the sector public administration . The rate in the sectors construction, public utilities and education was approximately 30 percent. The membership rate is much lower in commercial services, e.g. financial institutions and trade. Within commercial services, the sector hotels and restaurants has the lowest trade union membership rate.

Trade union membership rate by sector, 2011

Trade union membership rate by sector, 2011

Trade union membership rate highest in the north of the Netherlands

With 32 percent, the trade union membership rate was highest in the province of Friesland, i.e. twice as high as in the province of North Brabant (16 percent).

Trade union membership rate by province, 2011

Trade union membership rate by province, 2011

Dick ter Steege and Esther van Groenigen