The Netherlands

  • Jelle Visser
Chapter
Part of the The Societies of Europe book series (SOEU)

Abstract

The institutional features of Dutch trade unions after 1945 can be summarized in five points: a union movement divided by religion and ideology; close co-operation between the different currents; predominance of industrial unionism; strong federal authority over affiliate unions; and marginal importance of independent unions. This arrangement helped to sustain what Windmuller (1969: 130–1) thought to be the ‘most striking feature’ of post-war unionism in The Netherlands, ‘namely the underlying sense of responsibility for the welfare of the nation as a whole … showing itself after the war in many different ways-wage restraints, participation in innumerable public and semi-public institutions, an exceedingly low rate of conflict, acceptance of stringent economic controls, and the imposition of discipline in labour’s own ranks’. All this lasted until the late 1960s and some of it revived in the 1980s and 1990s. In the 1970s, there was a caesura and the outlook and character of Dutch trade unionism underwent a marked change. The division into three main union confederations continued, though the traditional cleavage between general or Social Democratic, Catholic, and Protestant currents disappeared. The Catholic federation merged with the Social Democratic one to become the dominant centre of the Dutch trade unions. The Protestant centre attracted a number of independent Catholic unions and became the interdenominational union federation it had always wanted to be. A new federation of white-collar organizations was founded. Within each federation, union mergers produced large multi-industrial or conglomerate unions which cut across the industry boundaries and challenged the leadership of their peak associations. Unionism in the public and semi-public sector grew more important, and with it intra-federal rivalry.

Keywords

Sugar Economic Crisis Europe Rubber Income 

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Copyright information

© Bernhard Ebbinghaus and Jelle Visser 2000

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  • Jelle Visser

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