Industrial disputes in the Netherlands have traditionally been rare occurrences, and when they do occur they are handled fast and pragmatically. This is the result of a well-entrenched philosophy of consensus and the conviction by unions and management that prolonged tension is in no one’s interest.
Trade unions in the Netherlands are moderate in character and tend to operate on a philosophy of consensus. Furthermore, the trade union density in the Netherlands is only 25% , which is low compared to European standards. Union membership is dominated by the three confederations: the Federation of Netherlands Trade Unions (FNV), the Federation of Christian National Workers’ Unions (CNV), De Unie and the Council for Medium and Higher Employees (MHP).
Employers often join an employers’ organization. There are three main employers’ organizations in the Netherlands:
The VNO-NCW association represents large trade and industrial associations.
Small- and medium-sized enterprises are united in MKB Netherlands.
Agricultural organizations are united in LTO Netherlands.
The collective bargaining economy in the Netherlands is reflected in – amongst others – the variety of institutions through which employers and employees (and sometimes the government) cooperate with each other, such as:
Regulatory Industrial Organization
Social and Economic Council (SER)
Dutch works councils
European works councils