The Dutch trade unions – and their support activities in central and eastern Europe

Rene van Tilborg (President FNV KEIM, President Uni – Graphical, Vice President Uni‐Europa Graphical, Rijswyk, The Netherlands)

Employee Relations

ISSN: 0142-5455

Publication date: 1 December 2005



This paper aims to explains how the Dutch unions evolved in the post war period and the reasons why they committed such significant resources to developing strong links and assisting the new democracies of Central and Eastern Europe complete the “Transition Process”.


The author draws on his first‐hand experience as the president of the Dutch graphical union, and for many years president and vice president of the sector's international trade union federations – to give an insight as to the rationale behind international trade union cooperation and solidarity.


The paper suggests that the help and assistance provided by the West European workers organisations, although costly has brought added value to the enlarged European Trade Union movement in so much as it has ensured that the Central and Eastern European trade unions have been able to complete the transition period.


The paper provides a first hand account of the difficulties that trade unions in the former soviet block countries had to deal with during the transition period, and how trade unions in the West had to overcome ideological and historical prejudices in order to provide help and assistance to their sister unions in Central and Eastern Europe.



van Tilborg, R. (2005), "The Dutch trade unions – and their support activities in central and eastern Europe", Employee Relations, Vol. 27 No. 6, pp. 624-634.

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Copyright © 2005, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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