From the TUC

Union membership: stable, but not growing

31 Jul 2008, By

FT article here (you’ll need to register) which reports on the latest LFS membership stats which show a slight decline in union density. The report comes on the back of figures released recently by both the TUC and the Certification Officer which flagged small increases in membership.

It looks basically like union membership is again stable this year – positive in that this represents nearly a decade of stable(ish) union membership; not so positive in that density, particularly in the private sector continues to decline.

Any thought on all this? What more can unions do to grow? Answers in the comments section please. And is this the first time the FT has ever carried a quote encouraging people to join a union ;-)

One Response to Union membership: stable, but not growing

  1. Paul Nowak

    Aug 2nd 2008, 7:10 am


    I’m just in the process of pulling together a couple of articles (and a book chapter) reviewing union organising efforts over the last 10 years, and I’ll post these on the blog when they’re done (September/October).

    Couple of quick provisional points though. Over the last 10 years 27 of the 46 TUC unions that we can track membership for (including those who have gone through mergers etc) have grown, most by over 10%. 19 have declined. What’s striking is that those who have grown have been a pretty diverse bunch – large and small unions, public sector and private sector, etc etc. They also have very different political and industrial strategies. USDAW for example has grown by over 20% since 1997, all 3 national teachers unions have grown by between 6-40+%, PCS has grown by 15% and so on.

    In some cases this growth can be linked to industrial action – in some cases it can’t. What I think is clear is that while in some cases industrial action and national campaigning may bring people into unions, unions then still need to do the basic job of making sure there are workplace reps and decent workplace organisation in place, otherwise those new members are unlikely to be retained.

    If you’re interested in taking part in the wider discussion on union organising you may find these events of interest over the new few months

    Best – Paul