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New report launched on future of trade unions

13th April 2018

The future of trade union membership in the private sector is the theme of a new report by Unions 21, an organisation which supports trade unions to increase their impact, influence and effectiveness.

Written in the context of widening inequality and productivity levels still lower than before the 2008 financial crash, the report argues unions are vital to solving Britain’s productivity puzzle and raising living standards.

Despite, growing concerns about the state of the economy, with fewer workers believing the economy is working or them, official statistics published last year showed the biggest decline in union membership in a generation.

The new Unions21 report is a wake-up call for unions to work together and to try new approaches to recruit new members. It also stresses the vital role of government in ensuring employees can have more of a voice over workplace issues, such as skills, flexible working and pay.

The new report calls for:

  • A new union-led project to give employees more voice and a greater say at work which will improve the quality of work and raise productivity.
  • A major new drive to resell the case for collective bargaining to a new generation of millennial workers brought up in more individual culture.
  • Unions to collaborate and invest in shared projects to ensure unions have the digital and tech capacity to reach out to new workers, particularly in the Gig Economy.

Becky Wright, Unions21 Director, said:

“Declining trade union membership figures must be an urgent wake up call for everyone committed to achieving fairer and safer workplaces. Across the trade union movement there are many examples of good work going on that if adopted more widely may begin to arrest the decline.

“That’s why this report calls a series of practical steps that unions can begin to take now to turn things around. Changing the way they do things this won’t be easy for trade unions, but they will have to if they want to recruit the next generation of members.”

Roy Rickhuss, General Secretary of Community, said:

“This report rightly recognises the challenges that trade unions face, particularly in the private sector.

But in keeping with the Unions 21 tradition, it doesn’t just identify problems, it also offers some possible solutions. I’d recommend it to anyone who is interested in the future of trade unions.

“I know Community will consider the report’s contents and see what more we can do to continue to be a modern union for a changing world, reaching out to the millions of workers in the private sector who don’t yet benefit from trade union membership.”

The report, ‘Roadmap to Renewal’ can be downloaded from the Unions21 website and will be launched at Unions 21 Annual Conference, being held in London today.

Community is one of the Unions 21 supporter unions.

Photos: Jess Hurd