Trade Union Membership 2004

Trade Union Membership 2004

The number of trade union members in the UK and the rate of trade union membership both fell in the year to autumn 2004. The number of employees who were trade union members in the UK fell by approximately 11,000 to 6.51 million in autumn 2004, compared with 6.52 million in 2003. The rate of union membership also fell over the year, by 0.5 percentage points to 28.8 per cent of employees in autumn 2004. These are some of the findings from the Trade Union Membership 2004 report, published by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in April.

The report is the second in an annual series that analyses the trade union questions in the autumn quarter of the Labour Force Survey to give estimates of trade union membership in Great Britain and the UK. Estimates are presented for the number and proportion of people in employment who are trade union members, and for employees whose pay and conditions are affected by collective agreements. Trade union densities by age, sex, ethnicity, fulltime and part-time employment, sector and region are also provided.

It should be noted that the trade union membership figures in the report have been revised from last year’s publication and no longer allocate those who did not report their union on a proportional basis, meaning membership figures for previous years are lower than previously estimated. This change in methodology has not affected the density figures.

The key findings to emerge from the report follow below.

* Less than one in five (17.2 per cent) private sector employees in the UK were union members in autumn 2004. Private sector union density fell by 1.0 percentage point in 2004.

* Almost three in five (58.8 per cent) public sector employees in the UK were union members. Public sector union density fell by 0.3 percentage points in 2004. Despite this fall in density the number of public sector union members rose by approximately 138,000 in 2004, as the size of the public sector grew.

* For the first time since the UK series began in 1995, more women employees than men were trade union members. The number of male employees in the UK who were union members fell by approximately 54,000 in 2004, while female employees in trade unions rose by approximately 42,000. Male union density fell by 0.9 percentage points to 28.5 per cent. For women union density decreased by a smaller 0.2 percentage points to 29.1 per cent.

* Northern Ireland had the highest union density in the UK (39.3 per cent of employees). In Wales it was 37.0 per cent, and in Scotland 33.2 per cent. Union density was lowest in England (27.5 per cent).

* The hourly earnings of union members averaged £11.38 in autumn 2004, 17.1 per cent more than the earnings of non-union employees.

* Almost half of UK employees (48.4 per cent) were in a workplace where a trade union was present. However, union presence was much lower in the private sector (34.2 per cent) than the public sector (84.7 per cent).

* The number of UK employees whose pay was covered by a collective agreement was 7.23 million in autumn 2004, or 35 per cent of all employees.

Further information

* Trade Union Membership 2004 was published by the DTI and is available online at www. uk/er/emar/trade.htm Copies can also be ordered by quoting URN 05/857 online at www. uk/publications, or by calling the DTI publications orderline on 0845 015 0010 or e-mailing

Copyright The Controller of Her Majesty’s Stationery Office May 2005

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