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Record growth in union membership

27 October 2006

Record growth in union membership

A recent Victoria University survey has found that union membership in New Zealand in 2005 increased by 23,290 (6.6%) over the previous year. This is the biggest jump in membership in a single year, since reporting began in 1991.

The survey of trade union membership by the Industrial Relations Centre at Victoria University found 377,348 union members at December 31, 2005. With 21.9 percent of workers in a union, union density is now the highest it’s been since 1998.

Since the end of the ECA period in 1999, unions have achieved a net gain of over 70,000 new members. This represents an overall rise in union membership of 23 percent.

Professor George Lafferty, Director of the Industrial Relations Centre at Victoria University attributes the rise in union membership to a number of variables. "The high profile and very successful campaigns around wages have shown a more confident union movement", he says.

"In addition, there has been a slowing in labour market growth which means people are staying in their jobs making it easier for unions to recruit and retain members".

The bulk of the increase in union membership continues to be in established unions affiliated with the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions. Membership of CTU-affiliated unions has risen by 22,944.

The Industrial Relations Centre will be publishing the data in its Unions & Union Membership in New Zealand: Annual Review for 2005 working paper.

ENDS


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