British Labor Unions: Still the Many
Relative to many of its closest peer economies, the UK maintains a high unionization level, despite a decline.
September 3, 2017
1. Even though it has a reputation as a rough-and-tumble market economy, the United Kingdom still has a relatively high rate of union membership – especially among the major European economies.
2. In the UK, 25.1% of all wage and salary earners, public or private are union members.
3. The average unionization level among industrialized OECD countries stands at 16.7%.
4. At 25.1% (as of 2014, the latest year for which worldwide data are available), the UK’s rate of unionization was also higher than Germany’s at 18.1%.
5. Even though it is less populous than Germany, the total number of union members in the UK (at 6.4 million) is ahead of Germany’s (6.3 million).
6. British union concentration is only slightly below Canada’s union concentration (26.4%).
7. The UK’s unionization rate stood as high as 51% back in 1980, but has since declined steeply.
8. This rapid decline was initially due to the market-oriented reforms pursued by former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher during the 1980s.
9. By the year 2000, the UK’s union concentration was just 30.2%, more than 20 percentage points smaller than in 1980.
10. The UK’s unionization rate has fallen a further 5 percentage points since 2000.
Sources: The Globalist Research Center, OECD