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Today (Sunday) is International Workers’ Day, an annual celebration of working people.

After two hard years, when many workers faced extraordinary challenges due to the pandemic, they now find themselves in the midst of a cost of living crisis.

The TUC is using today’s celebration to highlight the vital role unions play in helping their members gain fair pay rises through collective bargaining.

Unionised workers are paid on average five per cent more than other similar workers. This is equivalent to £1,285 a year based on the average wage.

TUC Deputy General Secretary Paul Nowak, who will speak at today’s May Day rally in Trafalgar Square, said:

"International workers day should be a time to celebrate. And working people can be proud of how they have brought the nation through the pandemic.

“But they are now in another crisis. The cost of living is racing ahead of their pay. And our Conservative government is doing nothing to help them.

“Working people need the power of government on their side. We need an emergency budget to give direct support with surging bills. And ministers should give working people and their unions stronger powers to negotiate fair pay deals.

“Join us at our national march and rally on 18 June to demand better for working people. Better pay, better rights and a better voice at work through unions. Only stronger unions can deliver a new deal for working people. Whether it’s winning in the workplace, or influencing government, it’s unions that make the difference

“If you’re not in a unionised workplace get together with your workmates and join a union. If there are enough of you, your employer is legally required to sit down and negotiate a fair pay rise with you. But if you’re not in a union, you have little bargaining power. And you lose out – big time.”

Editors note

- We demand better – march and rally, 18 June: The TUC is holding a national march and rally in London for working people and their supporters to demand real pay rise for every worker – and a real living wage for all.

The march will assemble at Portland Place at 10.30am and depart at midday, culminating in a rally.

Trade unions are providing coaches from across the country to help people attend.

To find out more information about the rally, and for contact details to book a place on a coach, visit the ‘We demand better’ march and rally section of the TUC website:

- TUC pay analysis:

Typical annual and cumulative pay premiums for trade union members

Annual pay premium %


Average annual pay premium


Cumulative pay premium for a decade


Cumulative pay premium for a career


- A review of evidence for the TUC shows that union members earn 5% more than non-union members with similar characteristics (for example, age or gender). Without controlling for characteristics, the raw union wage premium has averaged 13% over the last decade.

- The cumulative pay premium across a career is based on working full time from age 21 to 67 years old.

- The TUC’s calculations are based on the TUC report The Added Value of Trade Unions: and on figures from the ONS publication Trade Union Statistics 2020:

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