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Practical information from public offices
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Trade unions and trade union federations

A trade union is an association of employees in one or several enterprises. It can operate over both small and large geographical areas. Trade unions in an enterprise are generally called local branches or ‘shops’. A trade union looks after the interests of its members. The most important job of a trade union is to fight for better pay and working conditions for its members. There are also trade unions that have several affiliated local branches in a limited geographical area.

Most trade unions are affiliated to a national federation. A national federation is usually a nationwide organisation consisting of local trade unions. Most national federations are affiliated to a main confederation of employees. There are four main employee confederations in Norway.

The Confederation of Norwegian Trade Unions (LO) is currently the biggest confederation of unions in Norway. It has 21 national federations as members. These federations have a total of approximately 880,000 members. The Norwegian United Federation of Trade Unions (Fellesforbundet) is a member of the Norwegian Confederation og Trade Unions (LO), and it is the largest union in the private sector in Norway, with approximately 160,000 members.

The other main employee confederations are:

  • The Federation of Norwegian Professional Associations (Akademikerne),
  • The Confederation of Vocational Unions (Yrkesorganisasjonens Sentralforbund),
  • The Confederation of Unions for Professionals – UNIO.

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