Workers Aren’t Joining Unions Anymore


National union membership has fallen as a proportion of the Australian workforce, falling to 14.6 per cent. Total union membership numbers remain at 1.5 million.

1.133 million full-time workers and 402,000 part-time workers were union members in August this year; 11,700 less from 2016.

The total number of full-time and part-time workers who were not in trade unions grew by 376,000 over two years to total 8.374 million. As a proportion of the workforce, union membership fell from 15.3 per cent two years ago to 14.6 per cent.

Data was not released on the split between private and public sector workers has been recorded at less than 10 per cent.

In comments obtained by The Australian, ABS Chief Economist Bruce Hockman provided the following insights into union membership:

  • Union members were more likely to be over 40, female and working full-time.
  • 800,00 members were female and 735,000 were male.
  • Median earnings for employees who are union members for their main employment was $1300 a week.
  • Education and training had the highest proportion of employees belonging to a union with 33 per cent.
  • Public administration and safety was a close second with 30 per cent with electricity, gas, water and waste services at 29 per cent.

The figures come after a slew of “Change The Rules” rallies in capital cities across Australia were an estimated 150,000 workers attended in Melbourne.

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