Employees in workplaces which recognise unions were ‘significantly less likely’ to have been adversely effected by the recession, says an authoritative new survey published today (Monday).
The Workplace Employment Relations Survey (WERS) – conducted for government by the National Institute of Economic and Social Research – also found that one in five companies not adversely affected by the recession still froze or cut pay.
Its findings also noted that redundancies and pay freezes in the public sector have led to perceptions of job security plummeting, along with trust in managers. But the good news for unions is that WERS finds that they are generally holding their own across the economy, with the percentage of union members and the extent of their coverage virtually unchanged since 2004.
WERS also states that unions have improved their membership in larger firms, increasing from 44 per cent (2004) to 50 per cent of employees, which is significant as larger firms account for more than half of all employees in the private sector
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “This survey reveals the degree to which opportunistic employers used the recession as an excuse to hold back pay. This kind of behaviour deepened the recession and pushed working people into poverty unnecessarily. A swift return to real pay growth is now urgently needed if the emerging signs of growth are to be shared by everyone.
“It’s reassuring to learn that unions have held their own and were able to help working people get through the worst economic storm in living memory. The challenge in the months ahead will be to take unions into new workplaces and parts of the economy where union membership is rare.
“We need to make life fairer at work and ensure that top earners do not leave ordinary families behind. We can only do that if we have a strong and vibrant union movement which gives a voice to the interests of working people.”