06 May 2011 #Employment
The numerous threats of industrial action against government spending cuts and high profile strikes by BA and Royal Mail staff would perhaps have people thinking that unions are regaining the strength they had in the 1970s. However the most recent statistics released by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) show that trade union membership amongst UK employees in fact fell by 2.7 percent compared to 2009. Total union membership now stands at approximately 6.5 million. Unions are present in 46.1% of UK employees` workplaces which again reflects a reduction on previously recorded levels (-0.5 percent since 2009 and -2.8 percent since 2000).
This decline is a continuation of a trend over the past 10 years, in which union membership across the UK has dropped by around 3 percent. It is interesting to note that between 2002 and 2010, despite total numbers falling, there was an increase in union membership in the professional and administrative services and wholesale and retail trade sectors.
Scotland was the only one of the UK`s four nations to have an increase in TU membership in 2010. A small rise of 0.5 percent brought its total membership to 32.3 percent of employees. It will be interesting to see whether this slight upward trend extends to the rest of the UK throughout 2011.