The largest Dutch trade union federation, the FNV, has changed its name to ‘de VakBeweging’ (the Union Movement). A majority of the 19 unions grouped together in the old FNV signed up to the foundation of the revamped organisation on Saturday.
The move is designed to restore unity to the FNV group and modernise the way it champions the interests of employees. Ton Heerts, chief executive of the board of the old FNV and a former Labour MP, was named as the first chair of the new organisation.
In 2011, Agnes Jongerius, the FNV chair agreed on pensions reform with the government and employers. Under the accord, the pensionable age was to be raised over a number of years. Two of the largest unions in the FNV disagreed fundamentally with her move and this led to a major dispute and power struggle within the old FNV.
One of the points of contention was the way majority decisions were taken within the federation of unions. Adherents of the "one vote per union" principles were pitched against the "one vote per union member" supporters. The latter system was felt to make big unions too powerful, the former system was seen as underrepresenting the big unions.
The situation was resolved when the parties agreed that the way the FNV was organised should be radically modernised. A committee of major union figures met over the following months and decided on a new structure and aims for the reorganised FNV.
The committee was headed by Jetta Klijnsma, who has been named as second on the Labour Party’s list of candidates for the 12 September general election.
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