Jaap Wienen was born in Utrecht, The Netherlands, on 22 March 1952. After completing his higher education in Pedagogical Studies at the University of Utrecht, he worked in the transport sector, starting in 1977 as a full-time union official with the CNV Transport Union, responsible for negotiations in the port, fishing, road and public transport sectors.
In 1980 he assumed responsibility for the union’s negotiation policy, social security and pensions. As a member of the CNV Transport Daily Board from 1986, he held the position of Treasurer and was responsible for international affairs. He also served as General Secretary of the WCL sectoral organisation for transport, FIOST. In 1997 he became a member of the Daily Board of the merged CNV Industry, Transport and Agriculture Union and took up the position of President of the WCL industrial body WFIW.
In 2001, Jaap Wienen was elected Deputy General Secretary of the WCL, and was elected ITUC Deputy General Secretary at its foundation in 2006. He was re-elected Deputy General Secretary of the ITUC in 2010 and 2014.