Fewer men and young people in trade unions

Trade union membership has fallen by 17 thousand people in the space of two years. In March 2001 1.9 million people were members of trade unions. There are fewer men and fewer young people among trade union members, while the number of women members is still increasing. The decrease in the number of men since 1999 (39 thousand) is nearly twice the size of the increase in the number of women members in this period (22 thousand).

Trade union membership

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Fewer young people, more women and older people

Compared with 1999 fewer young people are members of a trade union in 2001: four thousand men and two thousand women. On balance the number of people in the age group 25-64 years has fallen by eighteen thousand: forty thousand fewer men and 22 thousand more women. The membership of people age 65 and older has increased by seven thousand.

Trade union membership by age

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These developments have pushed up the proportion of women in trade unions, and also lessened the under-representation of women. In 1981 only fourteen percent of trade union members were women, twenty years later this had doubled to 28 percent. Compared with twenty years ago, the ageing process has also become apparent in trade union membership. In 1998 fourteen percent of members belonged to the youngest age categories, this has now fallen to six percent.

Rob Kuijpers