The Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) has published its annual report on Trade Union Membership. The figures for 2010 are taken from the annual Labour Force Survey. Headline figures are;
- Union membership now stands at 6,536,000
- Union density is 26.6 per cent of employees (14.2 per cent in the private sector and 56.3 per cent in the public sector)
- Collective bargaining coverage stands at 30.8 per cent of all employees (16.8 per cent in the private sector and 64.5 in the public sector)
- Density remains higher amongst women employees (29.4 per cent) than amongst male employees (23.8 per cent) and,
- Unions are present in just over 46 per cent of workplaces
These figures represent a relatively small decline in density overall and in both the private and public sector (less than 1 per cent). It’s important to remember that despite the decline the rate is much shallower than in the 1980s.
However these figures do pose big challenges for the TUC and unions. There is an urgent need to halt membership decline in both the public and private sector, and then begin to expand collective bargaining and increase membership and density.
These challenges will be all the more difficult in the current economic and political climate but it is vital that they are faced and overcome; not just to protect jobs, pay and conditions for those in unionised parts of the economy but to ensure that all workers have a chance of a decent life both within and beyond the workplace.