Highly educated workers are joining trade unions in record numbers
According to SSB, over the past two years the number of trade union members has risen by 3.9 percent. The strongest growth comes from highly educated workers, who’ve had over a 10 percent growth rate.
A new report from SSB shows that in 2021 and 2022, the number of employees in Norway who belong to trade unions increased by 76,198; this means that there are now more than two million trade union members in the country. The total number of organized workers at the start of 2023 was 2,017,266, which shows an overall growth rate of 3.9 percent over the past two years.
This growth has been strongest in Akademikerne (The Federation of Norwegian Professional Associations); its 24,006 new members show a growth rate of 10.4 percent over the past two years.
Akademikerne’s growth has been largely credited to Tekna; with its 12,563 new members and a growth rate of 14.5 percent over the past two years, this union, whose members are STEM professionals holding a Master’s degree or above, is showing the strongest growth rate among Norway’s largest unions.
– The number of employees in Norway is rising, and that’s why it’s important that the number of trade union members also rises if we’re to uphold a degree of organization in the country of at least 50 percent, like we’ve done in recent years. Trade union membership ensures people of having support for and influence over their own work situation. A high degree of organization’s also necessary to maintain the way we organize working life in Norway. And the biggest competitor and threat to an organized and good working life is all the people who aren’t organized, says Vice President in Tekna, Elisabet Haugsbø.
– No surprise
Haugsbø isn’t surprised that highly educated professionals have shown the biggest increase among trade union members.
– More people are pursuing higher education, because many of the operations that used to be performed by unskilled workers have been taken over by automation. We’ll probably see growth in the average worker having more education and training. This kind of expertise will play a decisive role if Norway’s going to be able to keep up with increasingly tough international competition, says Haugsbø.
She’s very happy about the fact that out of all of the country’s largest unions, her own trade union – Tekna – has shown the strongest growth rate.
– It shows that a growing number of young people are choosing higher education in STEM subjects, which is decisive for Norway’s being able to succeed at solving the huge challenges we’re facing in climate and the environment, energy, healthcare and transportation. It’s extra positive that more and more women are choosing to study these subjects, she says.
LO (The Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions) is clearly largest
LO is still the driving force behind the main trade union federations, organizing as many as half of all employees in Norway.
– LO alone organizes half one-half of all working people in our country and will continue to play a leading role in the fight for an organized, safe and fair working life for a long time into the future, says Haugsbø.
Interestingly, the two largest unions in LO, The Norwegian Union of Municipal and General Employees (Fagforbundet) and The United Federation of Trade Unions (Fellesforbundet), have experienced a decline in their numbers of active members over the past two years.
Regarding Norway’s trade unions: Fagforbundet is clearly the largest, followed by Union of Education Norway (Utdanningsforbundet), Fellesforbundet, Norwegian Nurses Organisation (Sykepleierforbund), The Norwegian Society of Engineers and Technologists (NITO) and The Norwegian Society of Graduate Technical and Scientific Professionals (Tekna). Their ranking appears below.
The largest trade union federations (as of 31.12 2022):
LO: 992,763 members, 666,455 active* members
UNIO: 396,330 members, 281,402 active members
Akademikerne: 255,006 members, 207,322 active members
YS: 235,649 members, 153,042 active members
The largest trade unions (as of 31.12 2022):
Fagforbundet: 407,031 members, 236,478 active members
Utdanningsforbundet: 190,657 members, 124,860 active members
Fellesforbundet: 164,566 members,110,769 active members
Norsk Sykepleierforbund: 127,201 members, 92,189 active members
NITO: 100,634 members, 71,952 active members
Tekna: 99,431 members, 79,146 active members
*active = currently employed