Bleak future for unions in private sector

The
future looks bleak for private sector trade unions after new research predicted
membership would fall severely in coming years.

A
study by David Metcalf, professor of industrial relations at the London School
of Economics, concluded that "perdition is more likely than
resurgence" for public sector unions.

Metcalf’s
findings are based on measuring the difference between people who leave unions
and those who join. Union membership has dropped from 13 million to seven
million in the past 20 years.

The
findings echo the fears voiced by Bill Morris, ex-general secretary of the
Transport and General Workers Union on the eve of his retirement last year.

Speaking
to Personnel Today, Morris said: "Trade unionism has to re-orientate
itself and start speaking for workers in all sectors, including the ‘sunrise
sectors’ of leisure and IT.

"Trade
unionism has to reclaim the workplace as a legitimate and authentic voice of
all workers, irrespective of whether they are members and whether they are
paying a contribution.

"Trade
unionism is supposed to be about caring, sharing and supporting. If we adopt
that model, it will be a return to the 1889 model. That was why trade unions
were started up in the first place," he added.

By Michael Millar

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