Government trade union membership figures for 2017 report a slight increase in membership (by an extra 19,000). However, given the increase in UK employees more broadly, the proportion of members has dropped from 23.5% to 23.2% (the lowest rate of membership since 1995).

Union membership levels in the private sector rose by around 70,000 (from 13.4% to 13.5%) in 2017. In the public sector, it fell by 51,000 (from 52.7% to 51.8%). The ageing nature of trade union members remains a concern for the movement: the proportion of members aged below 50 has fallen since 1995, whilst the proportion aged above 50 has increased. This led the TUC’s Frances O’Grady to tell the BBC that unions have ‘a problem’ in reaching young people.

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