Trade union organisations

This list covers national trade union densities as a percentage of the working population plus  the principal national and international trade union confederations representing employees in private sector enterprises.

Trade Unions in Europe

Austria – Trade union density 27.4%

  • Austrian Federation of Trade Unions (OeGB): Composed of 9 trade unions with a combined membership of 1.2 million. Founded in 1945 by a merger of pre-war socialist, christian socialist and communist trade union movements.

Belgium – Trade union density 55%

  • Confederation of Christian Trade Unions (CSC): 187 trade unions with a total membership of 1.7 million. Dominated by white collar unions and more pragmatic than its rival FGTB.
  • Belgian General Federation of Labour (FGTB): 14 trade unions with a total membership of 1.4 million members. Socialist body with strongly held commitment to a planned economy and codetermination in the workplace.

Bulgaria – Trade union density 20%

  • Confederation of Independent Trade Unions in Bulgaria (CITUB/KNSB): 46 trade unions and federations with a total of 350,000 members. Founded after the fall of communism in 1990 and closely allied to the United Labour Block (OBT) political party.
  • Confederation of Labour (CL Podkrepa): 109,000 members. Founded in 1989 as the Independent Association of Intellectuals in Bulgaria.

Croatia – Trade union density 17% (Private Sector)

  • Union of Autonomous Trade Unions of Croatia (SSSH ): 22 trade unions and 21 branch offices with a total membership of 400,000. Founded after the end of communist rule in 1990.

Cyprus – Trade union density 55%

  • Cyprus Workers’ Confederation (SEK ): Consisting of 68 free labour associations (federations) with a total of 65,000 members.
  • Pancyprian Federation of Labour (PEO): 9 unions with a total of 64,000 members. Established in 1941 and claims to be the largest Cypriot trade union federation, although SEK is roughly of equal size.

Czech Republic – Trade union density 13%

  • Czech-Moravian Confederation of Trade Unions (CMKOS): 34 trade unions with a total of 611,000 members.

Denmark – Trade union density 67%

  • Danish Federation of Trade Unions (LO): Five principal unions representing 1.3 million employees. The organisation for blue collar employees, which has now severed links with the Danish Social Democratic Party. Responsible for negotiating the ‘basic agreement’ that establishes a framework for national employee terms and conditions. At an international level, the LO is pressing for a system of general rules for European collective agreements and a European dispute resolution system.
  • The Confederation of Salaried Employees’ and Civil Servants’ Organisations (FTF): Unions representing 363,000 members in both the public and private sectors.
  • Danish Confederation of Professional Associations (AC): 22 organisations representing 256,000 highly-qualified employees in the principal professions.

Estonia – Trade union density 6%

  • EAKL: Manual workers’ union confederation founded in 1990. 40,000 members.
  • TAIO: White-collar workers’ union confederation. 30,000 members.
  • STTK: Non-manual workers’ union confederation. 640,000 members.
  • AKAVA: Graduate-level employee unions. 461,000 members.

Finland – Trade union density 69%

  • Central Organisation of Finnish Trade Unions (SAK): 21 trade unions with a total membership of one million. An effective representative body, which negotiates a periodic incomes policy with employers. The union claims that its membership consists of 46% women, with 25% of all members being under the age of 30.

France – Trade union density 8%

  • French Democratic Confederation of Labour (CFDT): Consolidated union with 800,000 members. Closely affiliated with the French Socialist Party.
  • General Confederation of Labour (CGT): Consolidated union with 700, 000 members. Closely affiliated with the French Communist Party.
  • General Confederation of Labour – Force Ouvrière (FO): Consolidated union with 17 branches and 300,000 members. Founded in 1948 as a breakaway group from the CGT. FO does not have ties with any political party.

Germany – Trade union density 18%

  • German Federation of Trade Unions (DGB): 16 affiliated unions with a total of 6.6 million members. Dominated by the engineering union IG Metall and the services union Ver.di.

Greece – Trade union density  21%

  • Greek Confederation of Labour (GSEE): 62 union federations and 75 labour centres with a total of 450,000 members. Umbrella organisation representing private sector workers. Although founded in 1918, GSEE was reformed after the Greek Civil war in 1950. The strength of the Greek trade union movement owes much to the Ergatiki Estia (OEE) system of compulsory union dues and contributions to trade union funds by a levy on social security payments.

Hungary – Trade union density 11%

  • Confederation of Hungarian Trade Unions (MSZOSZ): 200,000 members. General body for unions representing private sector employees.
  • Autonomous Trade Union Confederation (ASZSZ): 100,000 members. Employees in public transport, railways, air traffic, chemical industry, catering, tourism, water supply, police and fire service.

Iceland – Trade union density 83%

  • Confederation of Labour (ASI): Six national federations and five major unions with a total membership of 89,000. 88% of Iceland’s private labour force is unionised.

Ireland – Trade union density 30%

  • Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU): 57 unions representing around 555,000 members in the Irish Republic and in Northern Ireland.

Italy – Trade union density 37%

  • Italian General Confederation of Labour (CGIL): Composed of 15 national trade federations and 134 labour chambers with a total of 5.5 million members, of which only 2.6 million are employed. Communist and socialist aligned organisation.
  • Confederation of Trade Unions in Italy (CISL): Consists of 14 union federations and nine other union bodies with a total membership of 4.2 million. Traditionally aligned with the Roman Catholic church.
  • Italian Workers Union (UIL): Consisting of 16 unions with a total membership of 1.6 million workers. Formed in 1950 through a split from CGL. A liberal and republican union which nevertheless co-operates quite closely with the larger CGIL and CISL.

Latvia – Trade union density 13%

  • LBAS: Founded in 1990. 24 unions with a combined membership of 145,0

Lithuania – Trade union density 10%

  • LPSK: Formed through merger in 2002. 120,000 members.
  • Solidarumas: Founded in early 1990s. 52,000 members.
  • LDF: Christian trade union confederation founded in 1919. 20,000 members.

Luxembourg – Trade union density 33%

  • Confederation of Independent Trade Unions (OGB-L): 16 trade unions with a total of 50,000 members.
  • Confederation of Christian Unions in Luxembourg (LCGB): Represents 40,000 members.
  • White-collar Union Federation (ALEBA/UEP-NGL-SNEP): A body formed in February 2003 following the break-up of the Federation of Private Sector White-collar Employees. It is an alliance of the Luxembourg Association of Banking and Insurance Staff, the Union of Private Sector White-collar Employees, the Neutral Union of Luxembourg Workers and the National Union of Private Sector White-collar Employees.

Macedonia – Trade union density 28%

  • Federation of Trade Unions of Macedonia (SSM): The federation has 18 affiliated sectoral unions.

Malta – Trade union density 51%

  • Confederation of Malta Trade Unions (CMTU): One principal and several minor unions with a total of 36,000 members.
  • General Workers’ Union (GWU): Comprises eight trade sections and two associations. Operates independently of the CMTU and is closely allied to the Maltese Labour Party. Recently suffered setback due to political infighting and formation of breakaway union.
  • Malta Workers’ Union (UHM): 26,000 members. Clerical and craft union. By far the largest union in the CMTU.

The Netherlands – Trade union density 18%

  • Dutch Trade Union Federation (FNV): 14 unions with a total of 1.2 million members.
  • The National Federation of Christian Trade Unions in the Netherlands (CNV): Eleven trade unions with a total of 344,000 members.
  • MHP: Managerial union with 160,000 members.

Norway – Trade union density 54%

  • Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions (LO): 28 unions with 830,000 members. Principally blue collar unions.
  • The Confederation of Vocational Unions (YS): A politically independent umbrella organisation. It was formed in 1977 and consists of 21 trade unions.
  • The Federation of Norwegian Professional Associations: 15 unions with 133,000 members.

Poland – Trade union density 13%

  • Independent and Self-governing Trade Union – Solidarity (NSZZ): 16 branches with a total of 634,000 members. Founded during worker protests in Gdansk, it was a major factor in the collapse of the Soviet regime in 1989/90.
  • All-Poland Alliance of Trade Unions (OPZZ): Confederation with a membership of 600,000. Formerly the state-run trade union body.

Portugal – Trade union density 21%

  • General Confederation of Portuguese Workers – Intersindical (CGTP): Affiliated unions with a total of 500,000 members. Formed after the end of the military dictatorship in the mid 1970’s. Communist orientated body with strong commitment to ‘international solidarity’.
  • General Workers’ Union (UGT): 60 unions with total of 200,000 members. Formed in 1978 through merger of social democratic and socialist trade union groups.

Romania – Trade union density 30%

  • National Confederation of Free Trade Unions (CNSLR/BNS): 44 union federations with a total membership of 800,000 members. Currently merging with the National Trades Unions’ Bloc (BNS) which has 13 union federations with a total of 350,000 members.
  • Cartel Alfa (NTUC): 40 union federations and two associate organisations with a total membership of 350,000.
  • The Democratic Trade Union Confederation of Romania (CSDR): 22 federations with a total of 350,000 members in the education, food, cement and textiles sectors. Established in 1994 because of a split in the CNSLR. Allied to the Christian Democratic party.
  • Meridian: 150,000 members, largely in mining, metalworking, the chemicals and rubber industry, transport, media and communications.

Russian Federation – Trade union density 37%

  • Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Russia (FNPR): Claims to have 28 million members and includes managerial employees. Much reformed successor to the former Soviet labour movement.
  • All-Russian Confederation of Labour (VKT): 3 million members. Established through an initiative by the Independent Miners’ Union.
  • Confederation of Labour of Russia (KTR): 1.2 million members. Well established in docks and sea transport.
  • Trade Union Association of Russia (SOTSPROF): Nine branches and a total of 500,000 members. Originally designated as a socialist body, but subsequently dropped its socialist affiliations. Principally representing white-collar unions.

Slovak Republic – Trade union density 17%

  • Confederation of Trade Unions of the Slovak Republic (KOZ SR): 38 trade unions with a total of 460,000 members. KOZ SR is strongly opposed to the current coalition government’s economic policy, which it sees as being against workers’ interests.

Slovenia – Trade union density 23%

  • Association of Free Trade Unions (ZSSS): 20 trade unions and 19 regional organisations with a total of 180,000 members. 60% of its employees in affiliated organisations work in the manufacturing sector.
  • KNSS, KSS Pergam, Konfederacija 90: Three smaller independent confederations with a total membership of 170,000.

Spain – Trade union density 18%

  • Trade Union Confederation of Workers’ Commissions (CC OO): Around one million members. Formerly closely associated with the Spanish Communist Party, but now a largely independent body. Favours large-scale collective bargaining structures covering whole sectors.
  • General Workers’ Confederation (UGT): Around 840,000 members. Socialist trade union traditionally linked to the PSOE political party. Favours workplace representation, rather than sectoral initiatives.

Sweden – Trade union density 68 %

  • Swedish Trade Union Confederation (LO): 16 unions representing 1.7 million members. Closely aligned with the Swedish Social Democratic Party.
  • The Swedish Confederation of Professional Employees (TCO): 18 unions representing 1.2 million members.
  • SACO: Organisation for union covering graduate-level employees. 586,000 members (including 100,000 students).

Switzerland – Trade union density 16%

  • Swiss Federation of Trade Unions (SGB/USS): 17 unions with a total membership of 390,000.
  • Swiss Workers’ Federation (Travail-Suisse): 13 trade unions with 140,000 members.

Ukraine – Trade union density 63%

  • Federation of Trade Unions of Ukraine (FTUU): 12 million members. Umbrella organisation with origins in the Soviet era.
  • The National Confederation of Trade Unions: 3 million members. Includes several independent trade unions.
  • Free Trade Unions of Ukraine (1997): 18 trade unions with a total of 148,000 members. Sectors include mining, shipping, air transport and railways.

United Kingdom – Trade union density 25%

  • Trade Union Congress (TUC): 61 unions representing 6.4 million members. The TUC has close links with the UK’s Labour Party.

Trade Unions Outside Europe

Giving numbers of individual members in constituent unions.

Argentina – Trade union density 30%

  • Central de Los Trabajadores Argentinos (CTA)  – 600,000 members
  •  Confederacion General del Trabajode la Republica Argentina (CGT) – 4.4m members

Australia – Trade union density 17%

  • Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU)  – 1.8m Members

Brazil – Trade union density 28%

  • Central Unica dos Trabalhadores (CUT)  – 7.8m members
  • Confederacao Nacional des Profissoes Liberais (CNPL)  – 280,000
  • Forca Sindical (FS)  2.1 m members
  • Uniao Geral dosTrabalhadores Brasil (UGT)  1.4m members

Canada – Trade union density 27%

  • Canadian Labour Congress (CLC-CTS)    1.5m members
  •  Centrale des Syndicats Democratiques (CSD)  73,000 members
  • Confederation des Syndicats Nationaux (CSN)   300,000 members

Chile – Trade union density 15%

  • Central Autonoma de Trabajadores de Chile (CAT)  – 110,000 Members
  • Central Unitaria de Trabajadores de Chile (CUT)  – 410,000 Members
  • Union Nacional de Trabajadores de Chile (UNT) – 90,000 Members

China – Trade union density 41%

  •  All-China Federation of Trade Unions  – 280m  Members

India – Trade union density 33%

  •  Hind Mazdoor Sabha (HMS)  – 5.8m members
  • Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC)  – 8.2m Members
  • Self-employed Women’s Association (SEWA)  – 1.3m Members

Japan – Trade union density 18%

  • Japanese Trade Union confederation (JTUC – Rengo)  – 6.6m Members

Korea (South) – Trade union density 10%

  • Federation of Korean Trade Unions (FKTU)   – 880,00 Members
  •  Korean Confederation of trade unions (KCTU)  – 813,000 Members

Mexico – Trade union density 14%

  • Confederacion de Trabajadores de Mexico (CTM) – 1.5m Members
  • Confederacion Revolucionaria de Obreros y Campesinos (CROC)  – 1.3m Members
  • Union Nacional de Trabajadores  – 180,000 Members

New Zealand – Trade union density 19%

  • New Zealand Council of trade Unios  (NZCTU)  – 200,000 Members

Nigeria – Trade union density 11%

  • The Nigeria Labour Congress [NLC] was formed in 1978 and represents trade unions with a combined membership of 4 million.
  •  Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) represents 300,000 workers

Saudi Arabia – Trade union density unknown

  • Severe legal constraints are placed on trade unions in Saudi Arabia. Only one workers’ committee is allowed in each enterprise.
  •  There is no trade union affiliated to the ITUC operating in the country.

South Africa – Trade union density 18%

  • Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU)  – 1.8m Members
  • Federation of Unions of South Africa (FEDUSA)  – 300,000 Members
  • National Council of Trade Unions (NACTU)  – 300,000 Members

USA – Trade union density 12%

  • American Federation of Labour and Congress of industrial Organisations (AFL-CIO)  – 8.4m Members