The value of unions to workers and their employers

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date: 3 December 2009

embargo: For immediate release

With the recession putting pressure on Britain's workers, the TUC has today (Thursday) published new materials to help unions attract new recruits and demonstrate the value of unions to employers.

Alongside a new leaflet aimed at encouraging workers who've never thought about joining a union to do so, and a guide to show union reps how to research the employers they deal with, the TUC has also released a new report looking at the positive advantages unions bring to the UK economy.

The Union Advantage says that union members get higher wages, better sickness and pension benefits, are much more likely to be able to take advantage of flexible working and are able to take more annual leave.

The report cites official statistics showing that workers in a union earn 12.5 per cent more an hour than employees in a non-unionised workplace, taking home average hourly earnings of £13.07 compared to £11.62.

The presence of a union is likely to push training up the workplace agenda, encouraging members to take up courses to improve their skills which their company can then benefit from in the form of improved productivity. Over 230,000 workers were helped into taking up some form of learning by their union last year, says the report.

The Union Advantage also says unions and their safety reps help make workplaces safer and reduce the chances of employees becoming ill because of stress, bullying and other workplace hazards. And as well as winning a better deal for their members, unions can also save the employers a lot of time, hassle and money, says the TUC.

The report cites official statistics suggesting that because unions give employees a voice and solve problems, people are much less likely to leave their jobs in a unionised workplace, saving employers between £72 million and £143 million in recruitment costs.

By cutting down on accidents at work, unions could be saving employers as much as £371 million a year says the report, and because they feel involved and listened to, unions help workforces become more productive, benefitting the UK economy to the tune of between £3.4 and £10.2 billion a year.

Want Better Pay, Conditions and Benefits at Work? is a colourful fold out leaflet designed to show workers the value of union membership and why they should sign up.

It says that unions not only ensure that people are treated fairly and are safe at work, they can also provide support when things go wrong, and negotiate enhanced redundancy payouts when jobs are under threat.

Commenting on the new materials, TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: 'These are tough times for workers and unions alike and now more than ever workers need the protection of a union. Our leaflet sets out in simple terms just why workers should sign up and start to benefit from the wealth of advantages that membership brings.

'And it's not just employees who stand to gain from being involved with a union, employers who work closely with union reps know only too well the benefits of having experts in safety, learning and employment law at close call for advice and help should the need arise.'


- The Union Advantage: The positive impact of trade unions on the economy and British society is available at

- All TUC press releases can be found at

- Register for the TUC's press extranet: a service exclusive to journalists wanting to access pre-embargo releases and reports from the TUC. Visit


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Rob Holdsworth T: 020 7467 1372 M: 07717 531150 E:
Elly Brenchley T: 020 7467 1337 M: 07900 910624 E:

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