We are going up! Trade union membership on the rise again

The number of employees who were trade union members rose by 103,000 on the year to 6.35 million in 2018.

Figures from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy show a second successive annual increase in employee union membership levels following the fall to the series low of 6.23 million in 2016.

Today’s report shows: 

• the proportion of employees who were trade union members also rose slightly on the year to 23.4% in 2018, from 23.3% in 2017.

• the proportion of male employees who were members of a trade union fell to 20.7%, whilst the proportion of female employees who were members of a trade union increased to 26.2%.

Public and Private sector

• The number of public sector employees belonging to a trade union increased by 149,000 on the year to 3.7 million in 2018, whilst private sector membership levels have fallen by 47,000 to 2.65 million, over the same period.

  • The proportion of employees belonging to a trade union in the public sector increased to 52.5% in 2018 from 51.9% in 2017. This contrasted with a fall of 0.3 percentage points to 13.2% in the private sector.

Characteristics

Trade union members are more likely to be older workers – almost 77% of employees who were trade union members in 2018 were aged 35 or older, while just 4.4% were aged between 16 and 24.

Nations and regions

• The North East (28.9%), North West (28.2%) and Yorkshire and the Humber (27.2%), have higher proportions of trade union membership among employees than the English average of 22.1% and London (18.2%), the South East (18.2%) and East of England (19.5%) (Table 4.1).

  • All countries across the UK experienced an increase in the number of employees who were trade union members, with Wales (9.4%) and Northern Ireland (6.0%) recording the highest percentage increases.

You can read the full report here.

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