Wales Institute of Social & Economic Research, Data & Methods
Sefydliad Ymchwil Gymdeithasol ac Economaidd, Data a Dulliau Cymru

Research notes

Our series of Research Notes provide summaries of emerging findings that we hope will be of interest to academics, the trade union community and those in the statistical community who have responsibility for monitoring trade union membership.

1. Making Sense of Official Estimates of Trade Union Membership

Different sources of data provide a generally consistent picture of downward trends in rates of trade union density, presence and coverage; analysis raises cause for concern regarding official estimates derived from the Labour Force Survey which underestimate the true extent to which unions are both present in the workplace and recognised by employers in negotiations over the pay and conditions of employees.  Whilst the presence of downward trends in union membership is not open to debate, there are many more workers affected by unionisation than one might think based upon a casual glance at the official statistics. 

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2. Trade Union Membership in the Labour Force Survey: Is it who you ask or how you ask them?

Concerns regarding how the use of proxy respondents within the Labour Force Survey may affect the quality of official statistics on trade union membership data is not new.  However, less attention has been given to interview mode.   The analysis reveals that the mode through which an interview is conducted appears to be just as important as the more commonly cited issue of proxy response. Rates of trade union membership and presence are estimated to be higher when derived from telephone as opposed to face to face interviews.

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3. Trade Union Membership Among the Migrant Community

Like many other European Countries, the UK has experienced a high level of in-migration from all parts of the world in the last two decades. The driving forces behind this have included rapid population growth and high rates of poverty in developing countries, escaping political unrest and war and strong domestic demand for unskilled labour.  This paper presents new estimates of trade union membership among migrants in the UK.  Levels of membership among migrants employees from those countries that joined the EU in 2004 and 2007 is approximately a third of the UK average.

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4. Geographical Variations in Job Satisfaction

Happiness at work is a popular topic.  This Research Note explores measures of job satisfaction that are available from 3 nationally representative surveys that are conducted within Britain; the Skills and Employment Surveys, the Workplace Employment Relations Survey and the British Household Panel Survey.  Indices of satisfaction with work can be constructed from these sources based on both ‘catch all’ questions on overall job satisfaction and more detailed questions that ask respondents how satisfied or dissatisfied they are with particular aspects of their jobs.  Exploratory analysis reveals that reported levels of job satisfaction are higher in Wales than across other parts of Great Britain.

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