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National Federation of Christian Trade Unions (CNV) in the Netherlands

CNV Vakmensen, literally "CNV Professionals" is part of the National Federation of Christian Trade Unions (CNV) in the Netherlands. CNV has over 320,000 members and is completely independent of governmental or political groups, and is open for everybody to join. CNV can be proud of broad grassroots support, spread throughout the Netherlands.

Eleven trade unions are affiliated with CNV,  working in various sectors. CNV Vakmensen serves people working in the construction and manufacturing industry, transport and service industries. We guard and advocate employees’ rights in matters related to collective labour agreements, social security and pensions.


There are overall themes that concern all affiliated CNV trade unions and their members. The CNV trade union federation takes these interests to heart and actively promotes better work opportunities, working conditions, worker participation, social security, environment, education and training facilities. CNV works for the renewal and betterment of society, for all people to share in prosperity and well-being, to live in freedom on the basis of equality.

Betterment of society, in the Netherlands and abroad

This is not restricted to Dutch national borders. CNV also operates internationally. Human rights, the right to organise trade unions, sustainable development, international co-operation, globalisation, and social development are familiar constituent themes in CNV policy.  

This scope makes CNV a broad movement which, next to the protection of collective and individual interests, strives for the renewal of society and workers’ emancipation. CNV is not merely concerned with members' short term interests. Themes such as quality of life and work are elementary to the CNV approach.

A clear course

The CNV trade union federation sails its own, recognisable course. The Christian values of justice, solidarity, and stewardship give direction to the solutions for social issues of our time. In its vision programme, CNV translates these values into three objectives: solidarity, participation and sustainability.

Solidarity draws no distinction on grounds of race, gender, sexual orientation, age, or social status. Solidarity reaches further than people’s front doors, the company gates, the borders of the country. CNV envisions a society that enables people to take part in social and labour processes. Sustainability is all about a balanced economic growth that fully takes into account the interests of future generations.  

CNV activities at various levels

To meet these objectives, the CNV trade union federation is active at various levels. The trade unions of the CNV are particularly active in the workplace, looking after the collective and individual interests of their members. Besides the negotiation of collective labour agreements, which in the Netherlands usually takes place at sector level, the CNV unions also take up the cause of their members' working hours, safety and health in the workplace, salaries, dismissal, benefits, allowances and pensions. 

At national level, CNV participates in national consultative bodies, namely the tripartite Social Economic Council (abbr. SER) and the bipartite Foundation of Labour (abbr. STAR). The CNV contributes to a collectively supported social economic policy. Work opportunities of satisfactory and qualitatively acceptable levels and the fair distribution of labour and care tasks between men and women, are typical issues.  

Solidarity across the border  

As a Christian trade union movement CNV operates in an international context. And as a member of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), the CNV promotes a Europe that is more democratic and socially aware. CNV is actively involved in the activities of the International Labour Organisation (ILO).  

Support to colleagues in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and Central and Eastern Europe is given through membership of the World Confederation of Labour (WCL). The WCL is an international trade union movement looking after the interests of people working in the formal and informal sectors. The WCL has regional organisations in Asia (BATU), Africa (DOAWTU) and Latin America (CLAT).

As part of this responsibility, CNV runs a specialised department - CNV Internationaal - for international solidarity. This department donates to sister trade unions in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and in Central and Eastern Europe. The focus of this financial solidarity is on the poorest unions to help them build up their organisations and support them in their training activities.


Next to these activities CNV has an educational and campaign department in the Netherlands. This department leads campaigns for imprisoned colleagues, organises courses, carries out investigations, and provides information.

Co-operation, responsibility and trust

Many foreigners are interested in the background of the success of the Dutch economy. Mr Jaap Smit, former chairperson of the National Federation of Christian Trade Unions, maintains that it all boils down to these three words: co-operation, responsibility and trust. Smit: "Dutch readiness to co-operate can be traced back to the beginning of the district water boards. Early in their history, Dutch citizens had to fight against the sea and gain land from the water. They had to co-operate and take their responsibilities. The sharing of responsibilities is older than the democratic form of administration and government in the Netherlands. Wherever it is necessary, the Dutch will work together.

"This common line of thought for the Netherlands yields a structure that ensures that employees, employers, and the government meet regularly and exchange views on the development of society. This structure gets its form in a number of bipartite and tripartite institutions, such as the Social Economic Council and the Foundation of Labour. This approach stimulates employees’ and employers’ organisations and the government alike in their readiness to look further than to their own immediate interests.”

Contact us

For more information, e-mail, write or phone us:

CNV Vakmensen
Tiberdreef 4
3561 GG Utrecht
The Netherlands

P.O. box 2525
3500 GM Utrecht
The Netherlands

Phone us at: 0031 - 30 75111001