Trade union membership increasing in the UK

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The Office of National Statistics has recently released its annual review of trade union membership in the UK. The figures show an increase for the first time in five years. This bucks the recent trend: trade union membership had fallen by more than 100,000 from 2007 to 2011, following a period of stability between 1995 and 2007.

One of the interesting developments in this review is the rise of union membership levels in the private sector. This has risen for the second consecutive year. Membership in the public sector remained stable in 2012, having fallen sharply in 2011.

The demographics of union membership may challenge stereotypical views, the proportion of female employees who are members of the trade union being around 29 per cent compared with only 23 per cent for male employees. The majority of members are increasingly older. The typical member is not the traditionally envisaged shop-floor worker but in a professional occupation with a higher qualification such as a degree. Disabled employees are also more likely to be union members…

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