union density

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Is the percentage of potential union members who are actual members, often expressed as the percentage of workers or employees in union membership. Union density can be calculated in a number of ways and there are several measures of actual and potential membership that can be used to make the calculation. In the UK, the most frequently cited estimate is calculated from the government's annual Labour Force Survey (LFS). This is an estimate based on all those in employment, excluding members of the armed forces, and in 2006 provided an economy-wide union density figure of 28.4 per cent. Ten years earlier the same series produced an estimate of 30.1 per cent and there has been a sustained drop in union density in the UK since the 1970s. Union density varies considerably from country to country and is often used as an indicator of the strength of national trade union movements. Density can also vary substantially within national economies by industry, occupation, type of employment, and age. In 2006, according to LFS, density was only 6 per cent in hotels and restaurants but 57 per cent in public administration, 47 per cent amongst professionals but only 13 per cent amongst sales staff, 31 per cent amongst full-timers but 21 per cent amongst part-timers, and 35 per cent amongst those aged over 50 but only 10 per cent amongst those under 25. One significant recent development is that in Britain, women's union density is now higher than that of men: 29.7 per cent compared with 27.2 per cent.

Subjects: Human Resource Management.

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