Union membership declines

Support for trade unions in the United Kingdom fell in 2004 – just over a quarter of workers are now union members.

Trade Union Membership 2004, published today by the Department of Trade and Industry, shows that an estimated 6.78 million people in employment in the UK were members of a trade union.

This was a decrease of 0.5% or about 36,000 people, compared with levels recorded in autumn 2003.

As a result, the rate of union membership fell by 0.6% to 26.0% of all people in employment.

Just 17.2% of private sector employees and 58.8% of public sector employees were union members in autumn 2004.

The make-up of the unions is also changing, with number of male employees in the UK who were union members falling by about 54,000 in 2004, while the number of female employees in unions rose by about 42,000.

Almost half of UK employees (48.4%) were in a workplace where a trade union was present.

However, union presence was much lower in the private sector (34.2%) than the public sector (84.7%).

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