Employee Desire for Unionisation in Britain and its Implications for Union Organising


This paper considers the size of the market for unionisation in Britain and what unions can do to increase employees' desire for membership and representation.  It identifies quite high levels of union satisfaction among members, but a sizeable minority of 10-14% of members who are discontented with their union who are most at risk of leaving the union. Successful retention depends upon unions identifying ways in which the union can better represent its members on a diverse set of issues, and ensuring union representation can bring benefits over and above those on offer through non-union collective representation. Over one-third of non-members in unionised workplaces say they would like to join a union if asked, but over half of non-members eligible to join the union at their workplace have never been asked to join.  In-fill recruitment will improve where unions convince non-members that they are effective organisations capable of making a difference; where they can convince non-members that it is -people like you' who join unions; and where they can persuade non-members that membership is value for money.  Although non-members in unorganised workplaces are less collectivist in outlook than employees in unionised workplaces, almost half say they would join a union if asked.  In the absence of a union, desire for unionisation among non-members in unorganised workplaces turns on their general perceptions of unions in society, their image of unions, and expectations about what a union might do if it existed at their workplace.

PSI Research Discussion Paper 12

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