The future for unions
In 2001, the TUC commissioned a British WorkplaceRepresentation and Participation Survey to examinethe uture o trade unions in modern Britain. ProessorRichard Freeman (Harvard University) and WayneDiamond (LSE) led an extensive research project basedon this survey and two TUC publications resulted
What Workers Want
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.Proessor Freeman gave permission to Unions 21to use questions rom the 2001 survey, and in early 2010 YouGov ran an online survey on this basis. Allgures, 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 workorce by union membership, industry sector and business size.Responses were also structured by gender, age, workingpaern, pay level, grade and regional location.In March, Unions 21 published an initial brieng onthe survey results ocusing on union presence and efec-tiveness in the workplace. Whilst conrming that thereis a plethora o workplace experiences and thereore nosimple or singular narrative about unions and the worldo work, the survey showed:
Enduring belie in the benets o collective strength.
Members value highly the proessional 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 aitudes to work; perceptions about workplace relationships; what maers most to workers;and the quality and efectiveness o management andunions. ese issues are explored in more detail in this brieng.
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 inmanuacturing and transport/communications are morelikely than others to wish they didn’t have to go. ere isnot a straightorward 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 earningrom £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 itDon’t want to goDon’t 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
FEELINGS ABOUT GOING TO WORK
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.