More women are becoming active members of trade unions according to a new survey produced by University College Dublin (UCD).
The study, “Working in Ireland” looked specifically at the structure of union membership, members’, and non-members’ disposition towards unions, the perceived effectiveness of unions and the coverage of collective bargaining. The results were presented by Professor John Geary and Dr. Maria Belizón at a seminar in Fórsa offices last week.
The data shows that although there has been a significant decline in union membership, down from 60% in the early 1980s to approximately 25% now, there are currently more women than men in trade unions. Some fifteen years ago there was little difference, but now 54% of union members are women while 46% are men. Professor Geary described the findings as ‘union membership increasingly becoming a female phenomenon.’
Interestingly, despite the decline in overall union density, trade unions have remained an important means of representing employees in Irish workplaces. Almost half of those working in non-union employments indicated that they would vote to establish a union in their workplace if possible.
Union membership is now concentrated primarily in the public sector (health, education, public administration and defence). Formerly highly unionised sectors such as manufacturing, construction and transport have struggled to maintain high levels of membership, while unions are struggling to get a foothold in modern sectors such as high-end tech and social media.
Union influence in the workplace was also examined. At least 50% of respondents believed unions exercise at least a moderate or a high level of influence on employers. The survey concluded that union influence is seen to be greatest in respect of employees’ terms and conditions of employment and the adoption of flexible working conditions.
Read the full report HERE.