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Traditionally speaking, the rate of union membership among ICT employees has been lower than for other professional groups, although it has increased somewhat in recent years.


IT professionals have lowest rate of trade union membership

Written by Øystein Krogsrud Modified: Aug. 18 2021

If we don’t include managerial employees, IT professionals clearly have the lowest rate of union membership among employees in Tekna professions. In contrast, physicists, chemists, biologists and mathematicians may be found at the top of membership lists; this group has also shown the highest growth level in recent years.

The employer organization Abelia says that the ICT branch has historically had a lower rate of membership than other branches. Abelia is the national association for knowledge and technology organizations for The Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise (NHO).

Birgit Abrahamsen i Abelia
Birgit Abrahamsen, attorney and Director of labor law and HES (health/environment/safety) at Abelia. Photo: Abelia

–  Historically speaking, the entire ICT industry has had a lower rate of union membership than is found in other industries. While we don’t know a lot about the reasons for this, our impression is that membership has increased in recent years. The numbers from Tekna also confirm this impression. We think it’s because ICT has matured as an industry and so has gone through a lot of fluctuations in the marketplace. In other words, it looks like employees in the ICT sector have been gradually coming to see that they benefit from the services they can get from employee organizations, says Birgit Abrahamsen, attorney and Director of labor law and HES (health/environment/safety) at Abelia.

The percentage of trade union membership in Tekna groups

The percentage of employees who were trade union members in different professions from 2017 to 2019, shown in percentages:

According to Fafo, a total of 80 percent of public sector employees in Norway belong to a trade union, while the private sector percentage is 38 percent (2017). There is a moderate covariation between the percentage of public employees and percentage of union membership in the Tekna groups:

Trade union membership and percentage of public sector employees

There is a moderate covariation between the percentage of members in trade unions and percentage of public sector employees in the Tekna groups, shown in percentages:

Jobs in the education sector, which largely comprise teachers at the college/university level, have the highest percentage of public employees, combined with the second highest union membership. Physicists, chemists, biologists and mathematicians, etc., have the highest percentage of union membership and second highest percentage of public employees. 

Trade membership increasing in Tekna professions

The Tekna groups’ overall trade union membership has increased from 54.6 percent in 2017 to 55.0 percent in 2019; with the exception of architects, all other Tekna groups have increased their membership.

According to Fafo, overall trade union membership among all employees in Norway was 50 percent at the close of 2019. While this is the same level as ten years previously, the distribution among the largest organizations had shifted somewhat. Both the Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions (LO) and the Norwegian Confederation of Vocational Unions (YS) had a slight decrease in membership, while Akademikerne had a slight increase. Akademikerne benefits from having among other things the fact that the private sector has a higher membership rate among employees with a Master’s degree.

–  In the private sector it’s mostly individuals with a Master’s degree who belong to a trade union, while this number is lower for employees with a higher education degree at a lower level (f.ex. a Bachelor’s degree), says Fafo workplace researcher Kristine Nergaard.

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