Union membership holds steady

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date: 30 July 2008

embargo: For immediate release

Responding to the latest official statistics on union membership published today (Wednesday) by the Department for Business (BERR), TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said:

'It's good to see union membership holding steady despite this year's major economic difficulties, and my advice to workers worried about further shocks to the economy would be to join a union as soon as they can. If nothing else, these figures show trade union members tend to earn more than non-members, earning an average of £12.74 an hour compared to £11.02 an hour.

'The figures show a decade of stable union membership. Our own figures are slightly more optimistic and show that the rise in membership in unions belonging to the TUC is the largest in a decade. This increase is almost certainly the result of the huge resources unions have put in to reaching out to young workers - the next generation of union members.

'Membership amongst women continues to rise (half a million more women have become members since 1995) and women are now just as likely to be union members as their male colleagues. Unions have continued to put on members amongst managerial and professional staff, and during the last year have stepped up their efforts to organise and support Britain's two million vulnerable workers.

'The challenge for unions now is to increase the number of trade union members, and with more people in work than ever before, unions need to do all they can to recruit and organise members, especially in the private sector.'

This autumn sees the TUC Organising Academy, which recruits and trains new union organisers, celebrate its 10th birthday. And during the 140th Congress in Brighton, the TUC and a number of sponsoring unions will launch a new Activist Academy which aims to train 1,000 workplace organisers over the next three years.

NOTES TO EDITORS:

- BERR figures are available from: http://stats.berr.gov.uk/UKSA/tu/tum2008.pdf

-The Labour Force Survey (LFS) figures published by BERR show that during the last decade union membership has been broadly flat (7,427,000 in 1995 and 7,411,000 in 2007). TUC and Certification Officer figures both show an increase in membership in 2007-2008. The LFS figures do not include key groups such as student nurses and student teachers. A significant number of retired members and jobseekers have also been excluded from BERR report, which deals solely with those in employment. The Certification Officer states that union membership for 2007-2008 was 7.6 million, and TUC figures for the same period are 6.5 million. Both these series show small increases on the previous year.

- The TUC has recently made a film looking at how unions can make themselves more attractive to the next generation of potential trade union members. Engaging Young People in Unions features interviews from four young trade union reps and a group of young workers who don't belong to a union. The film can be viewed at http://www.congresstv.tv/news/

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Contacts:

Media enquiries:
Liz Chinchen T: 020 7467 1248 M: 07778 158175 E: media@tuc.org.uk
Elly Brenchley T: 020 7467 1337 M: 07900 910624 E: ebrenchley@tuc.org.uk

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