Fall in trade union membership can impact on good employment relations
The recently published 2016 trade union membership figures show an overall decrease in membership by 275,000, the largest annual fall recorded since the series began in 1995. The proportion of employees who were trade union members also fell from 24.7% to 23.5%, again the lowest “density” of trade union membership since 1995. The largest reduction was in the public sector, down from 54.9% to 52.7%. Density in the private sector also fell, from 13.9% to 13.4% following five years of growth.
Commenting on the figures, Steve Hodder, Director of B3sixty and former Acas National Conciliator said that whilst the focus is often on the impact of this decline on collective “industrial relations”, there was also the impact on individual employee relations to consider.
Steve added “Particularly for individuals with complaints about their employment or those subject to disciplinary action, the absence of experienced trade union representatives “on the ground” can be to their disadvantage. It’s not always in the employer’s interest for such individuals to have no, or poor representation when such situations arise. In the absence of local trade union organisation, employers should perhaps be considering training staff who can act in that capacity. It would certainly help to ensure more effective procedures and natural justice for every individual”