Think-tank urges unions to take a softer line to survive

The UK’s trade unions risk becoming irrelevant as their hardline rhetoric drives away potential new recruits, a left-wing think-tank has warned.

The Fabian Society has called on unions to be less confrontational and instead adopt a more co-operative approach.

Union membership levels have almost halved over the past 25 years. In 1979 it was 12 million, today it stands at 6.4 million.

The Fabian Society report says many potential new union members are put off by “union rhetoric of struggle, strikes and strife which has little appeal to employees who care more about getting on than getting even”.

Written by former TUC economics chief David Coats, the study says workers instead want their union to be co-operative in the workplace, rather than militant and confrontational.

Adrian Askew, general secretary of Connect, the union for professionals in the communications industry, warmly welcomed the report.

“David Coats gives a refreshingly optimistic analysis of where we are and the high road that is available to the trade union movement, if only we are bold enough to take up the challenge,” he said.

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