New research – supported by a wide range of union leaders – sets out a radical plan to reverse the decline in trade union membership and boost pay in the private sector. The 11-point plan is published by the Changing Work Centre, a joint initiative between the Fabian Society and Community union.
Private sector union membership is now less than a third of what it was in 1979 but new research shows that continued decline is not inevitable. A nationally representative survey of workers shows:
The project’s focus group research with non-unionised young workers also found most people instinctively positive about unions, but a set of barriers need to be removed:
Future Unions’ 11-point plan, developed after interviews with leading trade unionists, includes:
Future Unions also calls for a new partnership between government, business and unions to unlock productivity growth and improve work and wages for Britain’s workforce.
Roy Rickhuss, general secretary of Community, said:
“This report is a welcome reminder of the huge challenges facing trade unions today. Doing nothing clearly is not an option, and we will be looking closely at the report’s recommendations to understand how best Community can continue to adapt to the changing world of work.
“With the self-employed sector soon to be bigger than the public sector, unions must be ready to meet the needs of millions of non-unionised workers. Community’s Indycube project is already helping tackle this problem by ending late payments and providing instant, free legal assistance for self-employed workers.
“The last 40 years have been tough for the trade union movement. This report should act as a warning that we cannot continue for another 40 years with more of the same. We look forward to working with fellow trade unions in implementing these recommendations to help build a movement that is relevant to all workers in today’s rapidly changing economy.”
Cameron Tait, head of the Changing Work Centre and author of the report, said:
“Trade unions have a mountain to climb to stem four decades of membership decline, but it is not insurmountable. Our research shows the majority of private sector workers support unions and the work they do, but unions must plug the gap between instinctively positive attitudes and workers actually deciding to become members.
“Our recommendations for unions to improve their practices, collaborate with each other, and work in partnership with business and government provide a roadmap to a membership renaissance. Millions of workers could stand to benefit from the work trade unions do, with pay flatlining, insecurity at work rising, and technology rapidly changing the nature of work. This report shows how that can happen.”
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