On 17 February 1917 (2 March on the new calendar), the industrialist Martin Luther convened representatives of 18 of Tallinn’s largest factories, who decided to establish a union of Tallinn-based manufacturers. Luther was elected as its chairman and Konrad Mauritz as its secretary. The union was based at 12 Vana-Viru Street, in the building which is currently the seat of Tallinn City Council.
The Union of Estonian Industrialists quickly gained in influence. Its membership varied over the years, ranging from 40 to 60 representatives of major industries in Tallinn and other towns.
In July 1940, the Soviet occupying forces liquidated the union.
Following the restoration of Estonia’s independence on 20 August 1991, industrial associations founded the Estonian Confederation of Industries, which in 1992 adopted the role of representing employers in social partnerships.
In 1995, associations of service industries formed a second employers’ union in Estonia: the Estonian Confederation of Employers’ Organisations. In 1998 the two organisations merged, being re-named the Estonian Employers’ Confederation in 2001.
The Employers’ Confederation has been a member of the International Organisation of Employers (IOE) since 1998, of BusinessEurope (the umbrella organisation of European employers) since 2003 and of the Business and Industry Advisory Committee to the OECD since 2010.
In 2010, the Estonian Employers’ Confederation signed cooperation agreements with its counterparts in Latvia and Lithuania. A year later, a cooperation agreement was also signed with its Ukrainian counterpart.