|Issue No 12||07 May 1999|
British Unions Halt Membership Decline
"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.
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