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Unions 21
| Blog post

Do members care about democracy?

By Becky Wright, Executive Director | 2 min

In January 2023, as part of our Giving Members Voice project, Unions 21 commissioned Survation to run a sample poll of union members.

We had already begun to explore how we can engage members, covering the different ways this could happen to how to make it happen.

To follow that up, we wanted to find out what union members know of their democratic structures and whether they felt connected to decision making, whether it was important to them to be involved and what processes they participate in.

Here are some key findings for unions to think about:

  • Overall, 56% of members were aware of the democratic nature of unions. Newer members (less than 1 year) were most likely not aware.

  • Younger groups are most likely to say that the democratic focus of unions influenced their decision (59% of 16-24 year-olds) to join.

  • 76% say their union reflects their views on work.

  • 85% say it is important for members to have their say on the views and policy of their union.

  • 58% of members have been asked to share their views to influence their union’s position on work. Overwhelming majority of those asked to share their views did.

  • Surveys were the most popular means of members sharing their views (38%) and were more popular amongst women (43%) than men (32%), while meetings in person were much more favoured by men (30%) than women (18%).

  • +18% more men than women reported having attended a union meeting in a workplace/branch.

  • At in-person meetings at workplace/branch, the overwhelming majority felt welcome (90%), were able to follow discussions (92%), had their say in discussions (81%), felt it was easy to get involved (87%), and built relationships (76%)

  • 83% value the election of governing boards and +90% think it’s important that members know what board representatives are doing.

Our next piece of work will explore the types and methods for democracy, giving unions food for thought on what democracy for today and tomorrow could look like.

Interested? Sign up for our newsletter to be the first to know when the report comes out.

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