Members not lured by free legal advice

PEOPLE are not flocking to sign up with trade unions which offer free legal advice and financial services.

This is the conclusion of an official survey by Labour Research, released in time to surprise lawyers at last week's TUC conference.

Union members were asked why they had joined their union. Only 12 per cent of white collar and nine per cent of blue collar trade unionists said they had been lured by free services.

More than 70 per cent said they joined “to protect conditions of work”. A similar number gave “pay” as a separate reason for joining, and more than 25 per cent said: “I am interested in trade unionism and wanted to take part.”

Fraser Whitehead, a partner with TUC solicitors Russell Jones & Walker, says: “I do not believe these figures. They cannot be right.

“We find that the demand from unions for legal services is higher than ever.” But the demand came from union leaders, not their members.

Partner Sara Rogers of Nottingham firm Huntsman's, which represents the TUC in the East Midlands, says: “Free legal services are a major recruiting point for the GMB.”