The Times splashed this morning with the trend of declining union membership, focusing on the drop in Unite’s membership – a fall of 262,740 members between 2007 and 2010.
What they don’t point out is that the biggest drop occurred in one single year when Unite bizarrely lost 310,000 members at the stroke of the pen, as FT Westminster revealed in July 2009. Officials admitted that many of these people had stopped paying their fees years before, or had even passed away in the meanwhile.
As I wrote at the time:
Unite, Britain’s biggest union, has revealed a sharp drop in global membership after discovering a quarter of a million “ghosts” who did not in fact belong to the organisation.
The group has reported a fall in its (international) membership from 1.95m to 1.64m, equivalent to a drop of 310,000, in its annual report published this week. It later clarified this as mainly a “tidying-up exercise” as officials excised the names of former members who had left or died years earlier.
Unite’s UK membership had fallen to 1.54m by that point. According to the Times it is now 1.44m, confirming that membership is still on the slide.
You can read their accounts on the Certification Office website, although it doesn’t seem to be working today.