Trade union leader and Prime Minister Wim Kok has passed away
With sadness, the IISH received the news of the death of Wim Kok (80). In what now appears to have been his last year of life, we worked with him to record his memories of his trade union period.
Mr. Kok still had an excellent memory and analyzed and formulated as sharp as ever. Besides the recordings we got to know him as a friendly and modest man.
In a project led by IISG director Henk Wals with preparatory research from IISG researcher Dennie OudeNijhuis, journalist Leonard Ornstein (VPRO) interviewed Wim Kok about his time as leader of the FNV. This resulted in 16 hours of interesting material that was included in the IISH collection and is now available to researchers, biographers and other interested parties.
Wim Kok informed us that he did not keep a personal archive. As far as his period in the trade union is concerned, the recordings we made are therefore an important and unique source.
Never before has a Dutch trade union leader been so meticulously interviewed. His whole career is highlighted, from Bouwbond employee to chairman of the FNV. Everything is discussed, the role of the trade union movement in the transition to decentralized wage formation, the social agreement of 1972, social innovation and leveling, social security and employment policy. The memories of the former trade union leader are placed within the framework of the general political and social developments of the 1960s and 1970s and the consequences of this for the relationship with the other trade unions, the employers and the government.
In February 2018 we celebrated the completion of the "Wim Kok Tapes" with a festive dinner at the IISH, in which, in addition to Kok and his wife Rita, the Amsterdam mayor Jozias van Aartsen and Minister Wouter Koolmees joined. It now appears to have been one of the last public appearances of Wim Kok.