Representativeness of the European social partner organisations: Post and courier services – Netherlands

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  • Observatory: EurWORK
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  • Published on: 14 July 2008



About
Country:
Netherlands
Author:
Marianne Grünell
Institution:

The aim of this representativeness study is to identify the respective national and supranational actors (i.e. trade unions and employer organisations) in the field of industrial relations in the post and courier activities sector in the Netherlands. In order to determine their relative importance in the sector’s industrial relations, this study will, in particular, focus on their representational quality as well as on their role in collective bargaining.

1. Sectoral properties

Table 1: Post and courier activities (NACE code 64.1)
  1994 2005
Number of companies* 900 2,350
Aggregate employment N/A N/A
Male employment N/A N/A
Female employment N/A N/A
Aggregate employees** N/A N/A
Male employees N/A N/A
Female employees N/A N/A
Aggregate sectoral employment as % of total employment in the economy N/A N/A
Aggregate sectoral employees as % of total number of employees in the economy N/A N/A

Notes: * Employers plus self-employed persons without personnel. ** The Central Bureau of Statistics does not report on the level of 64.1. N/A = not available. NACE = Nomenclature générale des activités économiques dans les Communautés européennes (General industrial classification of economic activities within the European Communities).

Source: Central Bureau of Statistics

2. The sector’s unions and employer associations

This section includes the following trade unions and employer organisations:

  1. trade unions which are party to sector-related collective bargaining;
  2. trade unions which are a member of the sector-related European federations Union Network International-Europa (UNI-Europa) – Postal sector and Eurofedop – Post and telecommunications sector;
  3. employer organisations which are party to sector-related collective bargaining;
  4. employer organisations which are a member of the sector-related association of European public postal operators PostEurop.

2a Data on the unions

The following data on the organisations are administrative, that is, they come from the organisations themselves.

2a.1 Type of membership (voluntary vs. compulsory)

Membership of the trade unions is voluntary.

2a.2 Formal demarcation of membership domain (e.g. blue-collar workers, private-sector workers, railways sector employees, etc)

No formal demarcation exists for the trade unions AbvaKabo FNV and CNV Publieke Zaak; these unions are active in the public sector in general and at TNT Post. They are affiliated to the two large national trade union federations, the Federation of Dutch Trade Unions (Federatie Nederlandse Vakbeweging, FNV) and the Christian National Trade Union Federation (Christelijk Nationaal Vakverbond, CNV).

Formal demarcations exist at BVPP, a craft union for postal employees. The trade union Vereniging van Professionals voor Professionals (VPP) represents higher educated employees in the following sectors: services, transport and logistics, science and technology.

FNV Bondgenoten and CNV Bedrijvenbond are active in the transport sector, including courier services. In courier activities – as part of the transport sector – the trade union De Unie is also active, but does not play a role in collective bargaining.

At AbvaKabo, BVPP and Publieke Zaak, sectionalism is an issue, while at VPP, FNV Bondgenoten and CNV Bedrijvenbond, sectoral overlap exists.

2a.3 Number of union members (i.e. the total number of members of the union as a whole)

In 2007, the total number of AbvaKabo members stood at 352,000 persons.

CNV Publieke Zaak total membership is 78,761 persons.

The total number of FNV Bondgenoten members is currently about 470,000 persons.

CNV Bedrijvenbond total membership is around 90,000.

2a.4 Number of union members in the sector

AbvaKabo currently has 11,000 members at TNT Post.

BVPP’s membership in the sector is at present 7,000 persons.

CNV Publieke Zaak currently has about 2,700 members at TNT Post.

VPP counts for less than 100 members in the sector.

At present, FNV Bondgenoten membership in the economic activity of road transport and haulage is 29,800 persons, while CNV Bedrijvenbond membership in this field is 9,500 persons.

2a.5 Female union members as a percentage of total union membership

The female membership at AbvaKabo, CNV Publieke Zaak, BVPP, VPP and FNV Bondgenoten is unknown. At CNV Bedrijvenbond, women represent 20% of the total union membership.

2a.6 Density with regard to the union domain (see 2a.2)

No information available.

2a.7 Density of the union with regard to the sector

Density of the trade union AbvaKabo in the sector is 17%, that is, among employees of TNT Post.

BVPP organises 12% of the employees at TNT Post.

At CNV Publieke Zaak, the union density is less than 3% at TNT Post.

In total, the union density at TNT Post is about 35%.

With regard to the domain of road transport and haulage, including courier services, the density of FNV Bondgenoten is around 21%. The density of CNV Bedrijvenbond is at present about 7%.

2a.8 Does the union conclude collective agreements?

All of the trade unions, except De Unie, conclude collective agreements.

2a.9 For each association, list their affiliation to higher-level national, European and international interest associations (including cross-sectoral associations)

AbvaKabo is affiliated at national level to FNV, at European level to UNI-Europa and at international level to the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF).

CNV Publieke Zaak is affiliated at national level to CNV. At European level, CNV Publieke Zaak is a member of Eurofedop – Post and telecommunications sector.

VPP is affiliated to MHP, the national trade union federation for middle and higher ranking personnel.

FNV Bondgenoten is affiliated to FNV, the European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF), which is part of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), and ITF.

CNV Bedrijvenbond is affiliated to CNV, ETF, which is part of ETUC, and ITF.

2b Data on the employer associations

The following data on the organisations are administrative.

2b.1 Type of membership (voluntary vs. compulsory)

No employer organisation exists in the postal sector. The new companies in postal services – Sandd and SelectMail – could become members of Transport and Logistics Netherlands, (Transport en Logistiek Nederland, TLN). (See 2b.2)

Employers in courier services can also be members of the employer organisation TLN. Membership of TLN is voluntary.

At TLN, sectoral overlap is an issue: courier services are part of the economic activity of road transport and haulage. Regarding postal services, as noted, new players such as SelectMail and Sandd could become members of TLN.

2b.2 Formal demarcation of membership domain (e.g. SMEs, small-scale crafts/industry, sub-sectors of post and/or courier services, etc)

The employer organisation TLN has no formal demarcation of the membership domain.

2b.3 Number of member companies (i.e. the total number of members of the association as a whole)

The member companies of TLN cover road transport and haulage, including courier services. This organisation has 6,000 members, including employers in courier services.

2b.4 Number of member companies in the sector

In January 2007, 12,107 companies were present in the sector which TLN represents.

2b.5 Number of employees working in member companies (i.e. the total number of the association as a whole)

In January 2007, 127,000 employees were working in the 6,000 member companies of TLN.

2b.6 Number of employees working in companies in the sector

In January 2007, 144,053 employees were working in the 12,107 sector companies.

2b.7 Density of the association in terms of companies with regard to their domain (see 2b.2)

The density of TLN is about 50% in the broader domain of transport, including courier services.

2b.8 Density of the association in terms of companies with regard to the sector

Not applicable.

2b.9 Density in terms of employees represented with regard to their domain (see 2b.2)

The density of TLN in terms of represented employees is about 85%–90% in the broader domain of transport, including courier services.

2b.10 Density in terms of employees represented with regard to the sector

Not applicable.

2b.11 Does the employer association conclude collective agreements?

TLN concludes collective agreements.

2b.12 For each association, list their affiliation to higher-level national, European and international interest associations (including the cross-sectoral associations)

The company TNT Post is a national-level member of the Confederation of Netherlands Industry and Employers (Vereniging van Nederlandse Ondernemingen-Nederlands Christelijk Werkgeversverbond, VNO-NCW). TNT Post is a member of the European Express Association (EEA) and PostEurop. The company also participates at European level in the Sectoral Social Dialogue Committee on Postal Services. At international level, TNT Post is a member of the International Post Corporation (IPC).

TLN is a member at national level of VNO-NCW. At European level, TLN is a member of the International Road Association.

3. Inter-associational relationships

3.1. Please list all unions covered by this study whose domains overlap.

The domains of FNV AbvaKabo, BVPP, CNV Publieke Zaak and VPP overlap regarding TNT Post. This is also the case for FNV Bondgenoten and CNV Bedrijvenbond with regard to road transport and haulage, including courier services and postal activities; the companies SelektMail and Sandd could be affected by the latter overlap.

3.2. Do rivalries and competition exist among the unions, concerning the right to conclude collective agreements and to be consulted in public policy formulation and implementation?

No rivalries exist among the trade unions concerning the right to conclude collective agreements and be consulted in public policy formulation and implementation. Nevertheless, trade unions can have different opinions and disputes from time to time, according to the trade union respondent from AbvaKabo.

3.3. If yes, are certain unions excluded from these rights?

At TNT Post, the four trade unions AbvaKabo, BVPP, CNV Publieke Zaak and VPP are party to the collective bargaining process.

In road transport and haulage, the trade union De Unie has made a few attempts over a period of 10 years to join the collective bargaining process. So far, De Unie’s request has been rejected; the parties involved consider that its membership total is insufficient.

3.4. Same question for employer associations as 3.1.

See subsection 2b. No employer organisation functions in the postal sector.

TLN is the relevant employer organisation for courier services. Some overlap occurs in activities with other employer organisations. Apart from TLN, Royal Dutch Transport (Koninklijk Nederlands Vervoer, KNV) and the Association for Vertical Transport (Vereniging Vertikaal Transport, VVT) are employer organisations in transport. KNV and VVT co-exist next to TLN. KNV represents the large employers in the transport sector, while VVT aims at smaller markets. See Section 4.

3.5. Same question for employer associations as 3.2.

Rivalries have arisen between TLN and KNV. However, in recent years, TLN and KNV cooperate in the collective bargaining rounds, in which the two collective agreements for both employer organisations are simultaneously negotiated.

3.6. Same question for employer associations as 3.3.

No organisation is excluded from the right to conclude collective agreements.

4. The system of collective bargaining

4.1. Sector’s rate of collective bargaining coverage

The collective bargaining coverage is relatively complete.

TNT Post has a company agreement consisting of three agreements; TNT Post has received dispensation from the TLN agreement. The TNT Post company agreement covers more than 80% of the market. TNT Post’s subsidiary company, Netwerk VSP, is excluded from the company collective agreement. Employees at VSP are offered a contract of assignment (Overenkomst van Opdracht). New players in the market – Sandd and SelectMail – refuse to comply with the agreement, and they also offer postal workers an employment contract of assignment. (See further information under Section 5, including the government’s initiatives to compel these three companies to comply with the collective agreement.)

The agreement of TLN is extended to the whole sector, including courier services and post. As noted, this collective agreement is simultaneously concluded with the collective agreement of KNV; the latter organisation represents 80 large companies and its agreement is the leading agreement in the sector. The two agreements of KNV and TLN overlap to a large extent, as well as maintaining certain small differences. Two large companies have received dispensation from these agreements: TNT Post and DHL, part of the German Deutsche Post.

4.2. Relative importance of multi-employer agreements and of single-employer agreements as a percentage of the total number of employees covered

The relative importance of multi-employer agreements and single-employer agreements, as a percentage of the total number of employees covered, cannot be exactly determined, but the multi-employer agreement involving TLN and KNV covers more employees than the TNT Post agreement. The fact that the agreement is extended to the whole road transport sector underlines its importance.

4.2.1. Is there a practice of extending multi-employer agreements to employers who are not affiliated to the signatory employer associations?

Extending a multi-employer agreement is the case with the TLN and KVN agreements.

4.2.2. If there is a practice of extending collective agreements, is this practice pervasive or rather limited and exceptional?

This practice is pervasive in this sector and in the Netherlands in general.

4.3. Sector-related multi-employer wage agreements valid in 2005 (or most recent data)

Table 2: Sector-related multi-employer wage agreements
Bargaining parties Purview of the sector-related multi-employer wage agreements*
  Sectoral Type of employees Territorial
TLN (employer organisation); FNV Bondgenoten and CNV Bedrijvenbond Part of the sector and beyond (road transport including courier services, new postal companies) All -
       

Note: *TLN agreement 1.5 years – 1 May 2007 to 1 October 2008

5. Formulation and implementation of sector-specific public policies

5.1. Are the sector’s employer associations and unions usually consulted by the authorities in sector-specific matters? If yes, which associations?

The trade unions of FNV and CNV are usually consulted on specific issues. Recently, the government requested these unions to confer with SelectMail and Sandd on their refusal to comply with the TNT Post extended collective agreement.

In the same context, the employer TNT Post is consulted on the labour conditions at its subsidiary company Netwerk VSP, which is excluded from the TNT Post agreement. The government planned to decide on the matter in the winter of 2007 (NL0704049I).

The employer organisation TLN is also consulted on specific issues, for example on working hours in transport.

5.2. Do tripartite bodies dealing with sector-specific issues exist?

No tripartite bodies exist to deal with sector-specific issues.

6. Statutory regulations of representativeness

6.1. In the case of the unions, do statutory regulations exist which establish criteria of representativeness which a union must meet, so as to be entitled to conclude collective agreements?

No statutory regulations exist with regard to representativeness.

6.2. In the case of the unions, do statutory regulations exist which establish criteria of representativeness which a union must meet, so as to be entitled to be consulted in matters of public policy and to participate in tripartite bodies?

Rules on representativeness apply with regard to participation in the tripartite Social and Economic Council (Sociaal Economische Raad, SER) and in the bipartite Labour Foundation (Stichting van de Arbeid, STAR). As a result, three trade union federations are represented in these bodies: FNV, CNV and MHP.

6.3. Are elections for a certain representational body (e.g. works councils) established as criteria for union representativeness?

No.

6.4. Same question for employer associations as 6.1.

No statutory regulations exist with regard to representativeness.

6.5. Same question for employer associations as 6.2.

Rules on representativeness apply with regard to participation in SER and STAR. As a result, three employer organisations are represented in these bodies: VNO-NCW, MKB-Nederland, the employer organisation for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and LTO-Nederland, the organisation for the agricultural sector.

6.6. Are elections for a certain representational body established as criteria for the representativeness of employer associations?

No.

7. Commentary

No recognition problems or jurisdictional disputes in the sector are currently being considered. Problems with sectionalism and sectoral overlap between trade unions and between employer organisations prevent a clear view of representation in the sector. At the privatised TNT Post, employees are still organised along the lines of the old public service. Courier services, on both the employer and employee sides, are organised as part of road transport and haulage. Despite these definition problems, this report reveals a high degree of representativeness, both on the employer and trade union sides.

At TNT Post, 35% of employees are a member of a trade union. The national average stands at about 25%.

In the economic activity of road transport and haulage, trade union representation is at 28%, while more then 50% of employers are members of their organisation, TLN. More than 85% of the employees in this sector are covered by the TLN collective agreement; this agreement has been extended to cover the whole sector.

The social partners are occasionally consulted by the authorities on specific issues; collective bargaining is their core business.

Marianne Grünell, Hugo Sinzheimer Institute (HSI)

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