The bottom line: European immigrants have lowest rate of trade union membership
Non-European immigrants working in Tekna professions have a much higher level of trade union membership than their European counterparts. Tekna member Rafi Ahmad thinks the reason for this is all about job security.
-Those of us who are non-European immigrants mostly come from countries with loosely regulated labor markets. For example, it’s relatively easy for an employer to get rid of employees in both the US and India, while doing this is far more difficult in Europe. So I think that a lot of immigrants from outside of Europe join trade unions just to increase their job security, says Rafi Ahmad, an associate professor at the Department of Biotechnology, Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences.
But although European immigrants (excluding the Nordic countries) have the lowest rate of union membership, it’s this same group that grew the most from 2017 to 2019.
Rafi Ahmad is Norwegian-Indian and has a BSc from Delhi, an MSc from England and a PhD from Tromsø. After doing his post-doc in Tromsø, he worked in the Swedish pharmaceutical industry for Medivir and AstraZeneca before returning to Norway as an associate professor at Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences. Having his full-time base in Hamar, Rafi also works part-time at Norway’s Arctic University in Tromsø. Interestingly, he didn’t join Tekna before moving back to Norway.
– It’s like I said before, that job security was the biggest reason I joined the Swedish Naturvetarna when I was working in Sweden. So although I wasn’t a member when I was a research fellow and post-doc student in Norway, I did join Tekna when I came back here to work at Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences.
Immigrants working in Tekna professions have a higher union membership rate if they’re non-European than if they’re European (excluding the Nordic countries). But it’s the opposite case for Rafi’s own Tekna group, which includes instructors at the college and university level.
– I think it’s because of the fact that there’s a lot of non-European immigrants like me who get their doctorate in Norway. Like I said, I myself wasn’t a Tekna member when I was a research fellow and post-doc student, mostly because I wasn’t sure if I’d be staying in Norway. I also felt that my job security was actually pretty good while I was studying here. And when I was a research fellow, there were financial reasons for my not joining, he says.
These are the professions behind the numbers
The numbers for trade union membership broken down into Tekna professions and immigrant groups have been taken from Statistics Norway and are based on tax returns where a deduction has been made for trade union membership. Yet this doesn’t show which trade union the respective professionals are members of; neither is the length of their education shown. The figures have been obtained for professions in which Tekna members are working, the different groups being listed below:
Research and development managers
Forestry and horticulture managers
Aquaculture and fisheries production managers
Managers Oil and gas extraction managers
Supply, distribution and related managers
Information and communication technology (ICT) service managers
Physicists, chemists, biologists, mathematicians, etc.
Physicists and astronomers
Geologists and geophysicists
Mathematicians, actuaries and statisticians
Biologists, botanists, zoologists and related professionals
Farming, forestry and fisheries advicers
Environmental protection professionals
Engineering professionals (Master) except ICT
Industrial and production engineers (Master)
Civil engineers (Master)
Environmental engineers (Master)
Mechanical engineers (Master)
Chemical engineers (Master)
Engineers geo/petroleum (Master)
Other Engineers (Master) not elsewhere classified (except ICT)
ICT engineers (Master)
Telecommunications engineers (Master)
Electronics engineers (Master)
Electrical engineers (Master)
Town and traffic planners
Cartographers and surveyors
University and higher education teachers
Other ICT instructors
Web and multimedia developers
Software and applications developers
Database designers and administrators
Electrical power systems
Petroleum, mining and metallurgy