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  Issue No 12 Official Organ of LaborNet 07 May 1999  





British Unions Halt Membership Decline

Union membership has stopped falling in the UK for the first time in 18 years, suggesting that unions' increased committment to recruitment and organising is starting to pay off.

"Today's trade unionists", the TUC's yearly analysis of membership, shows unions are signing up more women, part-time and Asian workers.

Unions are also making in-roads into the traditionally low membership sectors such as sales.

The TUC report, analysing figures from the Autumn 1998 Labour Force Survey shows:

- there are nearly 6.8 million employee union members representing 30% of all employees. This figure is unchanged from last year;

- union membership has increased amongst women by 60,000 since 1997 - much of which has been generated by the increasing number of part-time employees in unions (up from 21% in 1997 to 22% in 1998);

- union membership amongst black women has increased from 29 to 30 per cent. Afro-Caribbean women in particular have a very high unionisation rate (40% - an increase of 2% on the previous year);

- the unionisation rate for Pakistani and Bangladeshi employees rose from 16% in 1997 to 20% in 1998;

- unions are increasing membership in the traditionally poorly-unionised sectors such as sales where union density has increased from 9% to 11%;

- trade union members are still more likely to be found in Wales (41%) and the North East and Cumbria (40%). Figures for the South East excluding Greater London show only 22% membership.

TUC General Secretary John Monks said: "This report shows that unions' recruitment and organising efforts are starting to pay off. But unions must not be complacent - in almost half of the UK's workplaces there are still no union


AIf we are serious about increasing union membership we must become experts in recruitment and retention, we must make ourselves attractive to new recruits in the workplace and we must be respected by both employers and employees.

Summary of findings:

- Of the 6.8 million employee union members, 5.6 million work full-time (33% of all full-time employees) and 1.2 million work part-time (20% of all part-time employees). Almost one in five (19%) union members are temporary workers.

- 46% of all trade unionists are women. But because they are more likely to work in the highly-unionised public sector, women in full-time jobs are more

likely to be union members than men in full-time jobs (34% compared to 32%).

- One in five (19%) 20-29 year olds are union members and union membership increases with age - nearly two-fifths (38%) of employees in their forties are in a trade union.

- Unionisation remains highest within the public sector where union density is 60%, compared to only 19% in the private sector.

- Union members are more likely to be employed in larger workplaces. 37% of employees in workplaces with more than 25 employees are union members, compared to 15% in workplaces with fewer than 25 employees.

- Union membership is higher amongst employees who remain in the same job for longer. Over a third (35%) of all employees who have been in a job for between five and ten years are members, compared to only 11% of those in a job for less than a year.

The figures in Today's trade unionists reflect the membership drives amongst TUC affiliate unions:

- Following the partnership agreement with Tesco, the shopworkers' union, USDAW has increased membership amongst Tesco staff by 9,000. USDAW also reports an increase in union membership in other workplaces where it has recognition.

- The Iron and Steel Trades Confederation (ISTC) has doubled its membership in Scotland following recruitment drives around the country. A recent survey showed one in four of its members in Scotland are under 26. ISTC is now calling on each of its regions to try and double their membership too.

- The Association of Magisterial Officers (AMO) has been increasing membership year on year following the implementation of a recruitment strategy. Recent targetted recruitment in North Yorkshire has increased union density amongst magisterial officers from 26% to 80% and in Cambridgeshire from 30% to 63%. The union also holds an annual weekend recruitment school with TUC Organising Aacdemy tutors.

- The Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA) say its membership is expected to rise this year, for the first time since 1992, following targetted recruitment in the travel trade. 40% of new recruits to TSSA are women and one in four are under 25.

See the latest on international union news every day at Labourstart:


*    Visit the British unions!

*   View entire issue - print all of the articles!

*   Issue 12 contents

In this issue
*  Interview: The Call of the Wild
We meet a union organiser whoís taking the union message into the call centres.
*  Unions: After the Gold Rush
Call centres are the boom industry and governments everywhere are touting them as major job creators - particularly in regional areas.
*  History: From Steam Trains to Information Superhighways
A new project is dedicated to promoting the heritage of the Eveleigh railway workshops.
*  Work/Time/Life: This Working Life: Issue #1
The debut issue of the ACTU's new monthly bulletin for it's Working Time and Employment Security Campaign.
*  International: British Unions Halt Membership Decline
Union membership has stopped falling in the UK for the first time in 18 years, suggesting that unionsí increased committment to recruitment and organising is starting to pay off.
*  Review: Cold Warriors' Secrets Exposed
NSW Attorney General Jeff Shaw looks at two books that lift the lid on Cold War espionage.

»  Push for Decent Call Centres
»  Shaw Unveils Second Wave
»  Union Raises the Roof for Beryl
»  Cotter Withdraws Currawong Standover Claims
»  Reith Second Wave Will Prolong Industrial Disputes
»  Itís Rio Telstra -- Union Braces for Attack
»  Fears of AWA Push in State Rail
»  Age Tele-Centre Seeks Pay Equity
»  Advocate Ads to be Referred to Auditor-General, ACCC
»  Labor Council to Stage Pre-Drug Summit

»  Guest Report
»  Sport
»  Trades Hall
»  Piers Watch

Letters to the editor
»  Wran Wrong on Wrepublic
»  Digging the Dirt-Digging

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