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Rafi Ahmad
Indian-born Rafi Ahmad joined Tekna when he started as an associate professor at Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences.

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The bottom line: European immigrants have lowest rate of trade union membership

Written by Øystein Krogsrud Sept. 3 2021

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.

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