Great Britain

Fewer young people joining trade unions because they 'don't see how they are relevant'

Younger workers are becoming increasingly reluctant to join trade unions as they don’t see the relevance of the organisations, the general secretary of the largest union has said. 

The Trades Union Congress announced that its membership levels among those aged under 30 had fallen from 20.1 per cent to 15.7 per cent in the last 17 years. 

The decline led to the TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady to call for change warning there was the real possibility that trade unions would cease to exist within a few decades. 

"We are creating a lost generation of younger workers," she told the BBC. 

"Too many young people are stuck in low-paid, insecure jobs, with little opportunity to get on in life."

She added that unions needed to reach out to young workers and create new models to encourage them join.

“I think the problem is they share our values on our whole, they think that everybody should get a fair deal at work. They don’t see how it is relevant to where they are working now,” she said. 

“…We have got to create new models fit for the real working lives of young people and find those bridges into trade unionism because we know that’s the only way we are going to get better working lives for people.”

Overall trade union membership is at its lowest level since 1995.

Union leaders have blamed cuts to the public sector workforce, the rise of the gig economy and the reduction of “good-quality jobs” for the decline. 

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