A typical union member?

Published date
What comes to mind when you think of a trade union? Men, miners and picket lines? Ok, you’ve probably not gone straight to that stereotype but you might be surprised that the majority of union members are women.

We recently commissioned the Wales Centre for Public Policy to look at union impact in Wales, including who’s more likely to join us. Some of their findings ring true with what a lot of people typically think of unions. Union members are more likely to be:

  • Employed in the public sector

  • 35+ years old

  • Working for a larger employer

But this is only part of the picture – some of their findings really challenge what people might think about unions and our members:

  • Almost 1 in 4 workers aged 20-24 years old are in a union

  • 1 in 6 people working in microbusinesses are union members

  • Professionals (according to ONS classifications) are the most likely occupation to be in a union

So what does this tell us? It’s clear that there’s no such thing as a typical union member, although there are definitely trends in our membership, linking to the history of our movement and where there are fewer barriers to us organising.

And it challenges some of the misconceptions about unions – that we only have members in big workplaces, in heavy industry and non-professional occupations.

And what it really tells us is that unions are relevant to all parts of our economy. Trade unions are the workforce – where we have members, we’ve got people who want to join together as a collective in some way. Whether it’s a workplace of 1,000, or a self-employed make-up artist, the union movement can be your movement and can be the way that you make your workplace, your job and your industry a better place to work.

If you’re not a member of a union, find our more here: https://www.tuc.org.uk/join-union