Job losses see union membership slide

Job
losses in the manufacturing sector have seen union membership slide, TUC
figures show.

The
TUC said a break down of Labour Force Survey figures in Trade Union Trends
shows there are 44,000 fewer union members in manufacturing compared to a year
ago.

While
there has been growth in sectors such as business services, public
administration and retail, this has not been enough to outweigh the decline in
manufacturing, finance and mining.

In
all, TUC figures show their membership has fallen by 37,000 to 6,685,353, a
fall of 0.5 per cent.

Labour
Force Survey (LFS) figures show union membership is down by 30,000 to
7,550,000, a fall of 0.4 per cent – the LFS figures include unions and staff
associations that are not members of the TUC.

The
TUC said analysis of LFS membership trends shows that union membership has
stabilised over the last four years after falling steadily during the 1980s and
early 90s

TUC
general secretary, John Monks, said: "Unions always need to run fast
simply to stand still as there is a big turnover in membership each year as
members retire, new recruits join the workforce and our industrial structure
continues to change.

"This
year we have not run quite fast enough, and these small falls are
disappointing. But we were careful never to exaggerate the small increases in
previous years, and the picture is now one of stability after 20 years of
decline. The challenge remains to unions to use that base to recruit and
organise."

Key
findings:


Men now make up just over half – 53 per cent (3.86 million) – of all members,
while women account for 47 per cent (3.38 million)


Of the 7.25 million union members, 6 million work full-time (32 per cent of all
full-time employees) and nearly 1.3 million work part-time (20 cent of all
part-time employees)


The much lower union density among part-timers and the large numbers of women
engaged in these jobs (44 per cent compared to 8 per cent of male employees)
are the main reasons for the slightly lower unionisation rate among women
employees (28 per cent) compared to men (30 per cent)


When union densities for both kinds of employment are compared, women employees
are more likely to be unionised (33 per cent of full-timers and 22 per cent of
part-timers compared to 31 per cent of male full-timers and 12 per cent of male
part-timers)


Union density increases rapidly with age. Nearly two-fifths (38 per cent) of
employees in their 40s were union members compared to just under a fifth (19
per cent) of 20 year olds


With a unionisation rate of 26 per cent, black and Asian employees are slightly
less likely to be unionised compared to white employees (density of 29 per
cent). However, density is higher among black employees (30 per cent) and
especially so among black Caribbean employees (32 per cent). The lowest union
density is found among Pakistani employees, at 20 per cent


There remain clear regional variations in unionisation rates. High rates were
recorded in Northern Ireland (40 per cent) and the North East and Wales (both
39 per cent) and the lowest were found in the South East (22 per cent) and
Eastern region (23 per cent)


Trade union and staff association membership also continues to be heavily
concentrated in managerial and professional occupations, which in total now
account for nearly half (47 per cent) of all employee members. This is largely
a result of high density levels among these occupations in the public sector


The highest recorded union density figure is found among professional employees
(48 per cent) while the lowest is for employees in sales and customer services,
at 13 per cent


Employees with supervisory responsibilities are much more likely to be union
members (union density of 37 per cent). In addition, women managers have one of
the highest unionisation rates, at 40 per cent, and this is largely explained
by the high incidence of membership among women managers in the public sector

By Quentin Reade

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