Trade union membership rises by 91,000

Trade union membership in the UK rose by 91,000 over the last year, according to figures from the Department for Business, Energy, & Industrial Strategy.

The report, published today, says:

  • The number of employees in the UK who were trade union members rose by 91,000 on the year to 6.44 million in 2019. Trade union membership levels among employees have now risen for three consecutive years following the fall to a low of 6.23 million in 2016.
  • The proportion of UK employees who were trade union members also rose slightly to 23.5% in 2019 up from 23.4% a year earlier, and from the low of 23.3% in 2017.
  • The rise in trade union numbers among employees was driven by the increase in female members, up 170,000 on the year to 3.69 million in 2019. This was the highest number of female employees who were trade union members since the series began in 1995.

The TUC said the most recent figures did not take into account increases in union membership since the coronavirus outbreak.

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady told The Guardian: “Today’s figures show that union membership was growing before the coronavirus crisis hit, and we know that in the last few months, thousands of workers have been turning to unions to protect their jobs, defend their rights and keep their workplaces safe.

“The hard work and dedication of millions of workers has brought us through this crisis. Ministers must put workers’ voices at the heart of their strategy, including through a national recovery council bringing together unions and employers.”

The TUC tweeted: “Trade unions stand up for you, protect your rights and keep us all safe at work. That’s been our mission for over 150 years – and it’s more important today than ever. Join a union now.

“Traffic to our join a union page has increased by 500% this month compared to the same period last year. Workers need the power and protection of a union to get through this crisis. There’s never been a better time to #joinaunion.”

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