June 08, 2018

Under-30s turn away from union membership

Under-30s turn away from union membership

The number of people aged 30 and under who are members of a trade union has fallen significantly from 20.1% in 2001 to 15.7% in 2017.

Declining union power would not be an overwhelming cause for concern if not for rising wage in inequality and loss of worker voice,” writes John T. Addison in his IZA World of Labour article.

The decline in union membership comes despite the pay gap between younger and older workers rising more than half in the past 20 years. A new report from the TUC revelaved that over-30s are now paid 21.9% more than under-30s, compared with 14.5% in 1998

Younger workers are also much more concerned about “insecure work” and their financial position.

“Despite declining bargaining power, unions continue to generate a wage premium,” writes Alex Bryson.
“Without unions bargaining successfully to raise worker wages, income inequality would almost certainly be higher than it is.”

Frances O’Grady, the general secretary of the TUC, admitted that the union movement had “a problem” in reaching young people.

Mrs O’Grady said many young people felt they were in insecure employment in sectors such as health care or retail sales, but were not turning to the unions for support.

Many employers also made it difficult for people to become a member of a union, she said.

She also admitted that unions had to “earn the right” to represent people at work and needed to do more on diversity.

“I want us to look like modern Britain, a little less of the male, pale and stale and a bit more of the diversity of Britain,’ Miss O’Grady said.

Read further articles on trade unions, collective bargaining, and the labor market.

Get in touch with our experts Alex Bryon and John T. Addison for specific queries.