Wednesday 28 May 2014

Union wage premium rises to 16.4%, private sector membership up

The government has just published the stats on trade union membership for 2013.

The union "wage premium" (the percentage difference in average gross hourly earnings of union members compared with non-members) rose to 16.4% for all employees, with increases in both public sector (to 19.8%) and private sector (to 7%).  Scandalously, this is concealed under the headline "The trade union wage premium decreased in both the private and public sectors"!

The premium is a whopping £1.70 an hour.  To put that in perspective, you could pay the highest rate of UNITE subs for an entire month from the extra pay you earn in 7.8 hours.

Interestingly the wage premiums are even higher for women (30%) and young workers (38% for 16-24 year olds).

Private sector union membership rose for the third year running, up in 2013 by 61,000 to 2.6 million.  This still equates to a "union density" of 14.4% of private sector employees - the growth in membership has kept pace with growing employment.

Public sector union membership fell from 3.9m to 3.8m, and density fell from 56.3% to 55.4%.

The sectors showing the biggest growth in membership were "transport and storage", "financial and insurance activities" and "arts, entertainment and recreation".  Both "construction" and "wholesale and retail trade" saw significant declines.

The reversal of fortunes between the public and private sectors appears elsewhere in the data.  The percentage of employees in workplaces where there is some union presence has risen to 28.7% in the private sector but fallen to 85.4% in the public sector.

The picture on collective bargaining is more consistently positive.  The percentage of employees whose pay and conditions are negotiated through a union rose in the private sector to 16.6% and rose in the public sector to 63.8%.

In the Information and Communication industries, membership levels have fluctuated considerably over recent years, standing at 112,000 which is lower than last year but well above the low point of 2010-11.

Union density in the industry is 11.2%.  24.3% of employees are in workplaces with a union presence, and 13.6% negotiate their pay through a union.

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