Alan McCormack | Senior Associate

The World (not) in Union?

Recent statistics released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that Trade Union membership in the UK has dropped to its lowest level since records began.
The figures released indicate that only 6.2 million workers are members of a Trade Union in 2017, a drop of 275,000 from the 2016 level. This represents a 4.25% drop, the largest since official records began in 1995.

The public sector has been particularly affected losing 209,000 members, reducing numbers to 3.6 million, with the private sector losing 66,000 members to fall to 2.6 million. The reduction in membership also sees a clear gender split, with male membership declining by 2.8%, whereas female membership dropped by 5.4% over the same period, perhaps indicative that a larger proportion of the female workforce work in the public sector.

Unions blame the Government cuts to the public sector workforce, the loss of good quality jobs and the rise of the gig economy (where employment is far less likely to be unionised and many workers on zero hours contracts do not see the value of joining a union). The drop in membership can be attributed in part to some of these factors, but it is also the case that younger workers entering the workforce are less inclined to join unions and this is a significant contributing factor to the drop in membership.

Whatever the reasons for the reduction in Trade Union membership, employees and workers have rights and should seek advice if these are being breached. If you are an employee who thinks that their employer may be breaching your employment rights contact us today to arrange an initial free consultation. Please contact us online by clicking here or speak to a member of our specialist team on 0333 222 1855.

Alan McCormack

Alan McCormack

Employment Law Team

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