From the TUC

Trade Union Membership 2010

03 May 2011, By

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.

4 Responses to Trade Union Membership 2010

  1. Gregor Gall
    May 4th 2011, 5:47 pm

    Another way of looking at the figures is to say that at one point the resources spent on union organising were enough to keep the union movement running fast enough just to stand still but now that does not seem to be the case. There are obvious culprits in terms of redundancies in finance then manufacturing and now the public services. But this is only one (outward) half of the equation. Is the union organising of the late 1990s onwards now up to the task of working on a terrain that is much more difficult and inhospitable?

  2. George
    May 5th 2011, 10:48 am

    Gregor, how do you get that from those figures? It looks far more like a conclusion you’d already made that you then grafted on to Carl’s article.

    There is no material presented to suggest what the correlation is between the resources put into organising and membership numbers. For all we know, the decline may have been sharper over the past decade without it.

  3. George
    May 5th 2011, 11:01 am

    Oh, and Carl, I presume I am right in saying that compared to a fall of 2.5% in union density over the past decade, a fall of less than 1% indicates that the drop-off rate is slowing further? Or is this drop an acceleration in the annualised figures?

  4. Gregor Gall
    May 5th 2011, 11:12 am


    If you look at the figures in the report (
    and previous reports ( going back to the 1990s, you may see my point. Off course, the comment on correlation was merely that but it does come from my research (see for example I have often made the point that the decline would have been worse without union organising, especially because it did not stand in the way of something more effective.