UNISONActive is an unofficial blog produced by UNISON activists for UNISON activists. Bringing news, briefings and events from a progressive left perspective.

Friday, 31 May 2013

Union membership - stopping the rot

It’s not often that the Daily Telegraph is the source of a good news story for trade unions, but yesterday’s headline about ‘unions growing amid austerity cuts’ provided a surprise boost to union morale. It reported on the Office for National Statistics (ONS) 2012 labour force survey which estimated that individual union membership rose by 59,000 to 6.5m thus bottoming out a 10 year period of decline. ‘We are pleased that membership has increased over the last year, especially given high unemployment and swingeing government cuts. This shows that staff, both in the public and private sector, know that a union membership card is still the best guarantee of skills training, job security and fairness at work’ said TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady. It also shows that renewed focus on organising by UK unions is beginning to pay off.

The key findings of the survey make very interesting reading. A well as the overall membership rise, which followed four consecutive annual falls in membership of more than 100,000, the survey reports on trade union density. Overall it stands at 26%, with public sector at 56.3% (down 0.3% in 2012) and private sector at 14.4% (up 0.2% in 2012).