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What Workers Think

What Workers Think

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Published by Unions TwentyOne
YouGov survey results on the views of working people on work, managers and unions, analysis by Sue Ferns
YouGov survey results on the views of working people on work, managers and unions, analysis by Sue Ferns

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Categories:Types, Research
Published by: Unions TwentyOne on Sep 13, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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The future forunions– What do workers think?
The future for unions
In 2001, the TUC commissioned a British WorkplaceRepresentation and Participation Survey to examinethe uture o trade unions in modern Britain. ProessorRichard Freeman (Harvard University) and WayneDiamond (LSE) led an extensive research project basedon this survey and two TUC publications resulted
What Workers Want 
(2001) and
 A Perfect Union?
(2003).Ten years on workplaces, the economy and thepolitical situation look quite diferent but the need torenew the debate about the uture o trade unions hasnever been more important.Proessor Freeman gave permission to Unions 21to use questions rom the 2001 survey, and in early 2010 YouGov ran an online survey on this basis. Allgures, unless otherwise stated, are rom YouGov Plc.Total sample size was 2,224 working adults. Fieldwork  was undertaken between 4-17 January 2010. esurvey was carried out online. e gures have been weighted and are representative o the UK workorce by union membership, industry sector and business size.Responses were also structured by gender, age, workingpaern, pay level, grade and regional location.In March, Unions 21 published an initial brieng onthe survey results ocusing on union presence and efec-tiveness in the workplace. Whilst conrming that thereis a plethora o workplace experiences and thereore nosimple or singular narrative about unions and the worldo work, the survey showed:
Enduring belie in the benets o collective strength.
Members value highly the proessional servicesprovided by unions and non-members also recognisethe need or such support.
e challenge to unions to demonstrate that acollective voice is most efectively organised throughthe union route.
 Workers are more likely to be ignorant or indiferent to what unions do rather than hostile to union activity.e survey also asked a series o questions aboutmotivation and aitudes to work; perceptions about workplace relationships; what maers most to workers;and the quality and efectiveness o management andunions. ese issues are explored in more detail in this brieng.
Motivation to work 
On an average day 42% o all respondents look orwardto going to work, compared with 33% who wish they didn’thave to go and 25% who don’t care one way or another. Workers in the voluntary sector, those in smaller work-places (2-23 employees), with management responsibility,men and older workers (45+) are all more positive thanthe average about going to work. Workers in constructionand education are more likely than other groups to say that they look orward to going to work, and workers inmanuacturing and transport/communications are morelikely than others to wish they didn’t have to go. ere isnot a straightorward correlation between pay level andmotivation to go to work. ose at either end o the pay distribution (earning up to £200 a week and over £800 a week) are the most positive groups, and workers earningrom £300-£400 a week are least positive. As shown below, past union members are more positiveabout going to work than current union members andthose that are members o a union not recognised at their workplace are most likely to wish they didn’t have to go.
Look forward to itDont want to goDont care05101520253035404550
    P   e   r   c   e   n    t   a   g   e   o    f   r   e   s   p   o   n    d   e   n    t   s
       4       2       4       0       3       9       4       4       4       3       3       3       3       7       4       0       3       3       2       9       2       5       2       3       2       12       3       2       8
AllUnion members – recognised workplaceUnion members – unrecognised workplacePast membersNever members
Attitudes to work 
e table below summarises a generally positive approachto work, with a clear perception that individuals work very hard. Interestingly there is no clear diference o opinion between union members and non-members about whethertheir job is interesting and enjoyable or that they arerequired to work very hard, but union members are morelikely than non-members to disagree on other counts.
 The future for unions
 As shown in the chart, younger respondents are mostlikely to encounter problems with unair wages and with being disciplined or dismissed unairly by management, whereas bullying was most commonly cited as a problem by respondents aged 45-54.
All 18-24 25-34 35-44 45-54 55+051015202530354045
    P   e   r   c   e   n    t   a   g   e   o    f   r   e   s   p   o   n    d   e   n    t   s
       2       3       1       5       3       7       2       0       5       2       5       1       9       4       1       1       2       3       2       7       1       3       3       9       1       6       6       2       3       1       6       4       0       1       7       5       1       8       1       8       3       6       2       5       4       2       4       1       5       3       5       2       4       3
Unfair wages Unfair dismissal or disciplinePreferential treatment Bullying Discrimination
Trust in the workplace
25% o all respondents said that they trusted their employera lot to keep promises to employees and 41% trusted theiremployer to some extent; whereas 23% said that they trusted their employer only a lile and 12% did not trusttheir employer at all. Never and past members are mostlikely to trust their employer a lot (29% o each group) whereas only 11% o union members in recognised work-places and 20% in non-recognised workplaces showedthis level o trust. Around three quarters o respondentsin education and construction said that they trusted theiremployer a lot or somewhat compared with just 54% inpublic administration and deence. Levels o trust werelowest amongst respondents earning £500-600 per week.
Relationships betweenmanagement and employees
Overall respondents are positive about their relationships with management in the workplace – with 61% reportingexcellent or good relationships and just one in ten describingrelationships as poor. Private sector employees are mostlikely to report excellent relationships. Respondents romorganisations employing up to 99 staf and non-members arealso more likely than others to report excellent relationships.
AgreeNeitheragree nordisagreeDisagree
My job is interesting and enjoyable64%22%14%My job is secure in this workplace53%27%20%My job requires that I work very hard70%21%9%I never seem to have enough time to get my job done41%29%29%Managers here are understanding about employeeshaving to meet family responsibilities61%20%19%People working here are encouraged to developtheir skills55%24%21%I feel loyal to my organisation60%23%17%
 Workers in the private sector are less likely than othersto consider either that their job is interesting and enjoyable(17% strongly agreed, compared with 27% in the publicsector and 38% in the voluntary sector) or that it is secure– though eelings about job security elsewhere are likely tohave diminished since the survey was undertaken.Managers (25%) and workers aged 55+(22%) are morelikely than others to strongly agree that their job is inter-esting and enjoyable whereas one in ve young workers(18-24) disagree.More than 70% o respondents earning over £600 a week agreed that their job is interesting and enjoyable, compared with 59% o the lowest paid workers (earning up to £200a week). However, one in ve o the lowest paid disagreedcompared with just under one in ten o the highest paid.Respondents rom education, health, social andcommunity work are in strongest agreement that their work is interesting and enjoyable and those in wholesale/retailand transport/communications most strongly disagree. At the time o the survey respondents rom health andsocial work expressed the strongest condence in their jobsecurity and those rom the nance sector and manuac-turing elt least secure.Respondents rom the voluntary sector are most likely to agree that managers at their workplace are understandingabout employees having to meet amily responsibilities.ose in the private sector are most likely to disagree.Managers, women and older workers (55+) are instrongest agreement that employees are encouraged todevelop their skills and are also more likely to expressloyalty to their organisation. Young workers (18-24) aremost likely to disagree on both counts.
Workplace problems
Preerential treatment by management or senior sta  was the most commonly cited workplace problem by allrespondents, irrespective o sector, size o organisation orunion membership.

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