Almost 1 in 4 of trade union members are employed in education. According to the ONS 1.47 million of a total union membership of 6.2 million are now drawn from this sector. With almost half (47.7%) of all employees belonging to a trade union, the education has probably become the most organised. (In manufacturing, union density is now below 1 in 5 and in construction, only 1 in 8)
The ONS provides interesting –but in many cases, slightly alarming data, about the current state of the UK trade union movement, which is now less than half the size of its 13 million 1979 peak. The level of membership decreased by 275 000 between 2015/16 alone, the largest overall fall since records begun.
- Just 32.5% of workers are trade union members (13.4% in the private sector , 52.7% of public)
- 4 out of 10 trade union members are over 50, but only 1 in 20 are between 18-24
- 4 out of 10 members can be classified as ‘professional’ workers. 43% have degrees
- Trade union density amongst female employees is now greater than it is for males
- Over a third of ‘middle earners’ (£500 – £999 a week) and 1 in 6 of employees earning over £1000 a week are in unions. Only I in 8 of those earning less than £250 a week are TU members
Trade union can’t and won’t ignore these changes, but at the same time they will recognise these are as much the result of longer-term structural trends across labour markets as they are the consequences of draconian anti- trade union legislation or government policies and develop new strategies accordingly.
That education workers now play a key role in the labour movement, provides both further impetus for greater organisational unity (despite the NUT/ATL merger at least 10 different unions operate in the sector, often in competition with each other), but also for creating more effective ways of working with student and parental bodies.