The law of 1884 first allowed trade unions to be created in France. There are currently approximately two million people that belong to a union in France, which is the lowest among the European Union. Since the middle 1970's France union membership has steadily decreased. In 1978 it was 23%, 21% in 1978, 17% in 1983, 12% in 1988, only 11% in 1993 and today they are among the lowest of unions in Europe with only 8% union membership. The highest percentage (10%) of trade union members belongs to organizations with fifty to one hundred employees while organizations with ten to forty employees have the lowest percentage of 5%. However, when it comes to political and social matters and discussions with management it does not matter what the size of the union is because how much influence the union has is what is important. The trade unions are divided into categories. There are workers" unions, executive trade unions, profession-linked trade unions and professional unions. .
The four largest workers" union consists of the General Confederation of Labor (CGT), French Christian Workers" Confederation (CFTC), General Confederation of Labor-Workers" Force (CGT-FO) and French Democratic Confederation of Labor (CFDT). The CGT is the oldest French trade union, beginning in 1895, and the largest French union with 25% of the total trade union membership and 1,030,000 members. The CGT believes in employment, social protection, family and community. According to the CGT, for the organization to be successful in obtaining its goals and fulfilling its needs, there must full employment. The employees are given the freedom to express their thoughts, to be informed of any relevant decisions and take part in those decisions. The union allows the ability to take action regarding the social and economic life through strikes and interventions as desired without being called to question. Other believes include human rights and peace, equality of men and women and have strong communist views.