WISERD launches interactive UnionMaps service

UnionMaps snapshot of Cardiff University area

Today, WISERD launches a new interactive service allowing users to access data on union membership for over 400 unitary authority and local authority districts of Great Britain. UnionMaps allows users to produce area reports of union membership for a particular location or explore how different measures of union membership vary across Great Britain.

Since its peak in 1979, rates of union membership in the UK have been in decline. However, some parts remain more unionised than others. Over many years, official statistics have revealed that union membership is higher across the regions of Northern England and among the devolved nations of the UK. However, estimates for detailed geographical areas have not previously been made available.

What does the data reveal?

The most unionised place in the UK is Copeland in Cumbria. Partly located in what was the Cumbrian Coalfield, Copeland is also home to the Sellafield Nuclear Processing site with its highly unionised workforce. Although union membership in the UK is generally associated with those who have left-wing political values, Copeland actually returned a Conservative MP in the last election.

Other places where levels of union membership are very high include Barrow-in-Furness, Neath Port Talbot, Merthyr Tydfil, West Dunbartonshire, Rhondda Cynon Taff, Durham, Blaenau Gwent, Bridgend and Wansbeck in the North East. Areas with the lowest rates of union membership are Westminster and Kensington and Chelsea.

WISERD Research Fellow, Rhys Davies, comments on the findings:

“Union membership within an area reflects both the historical legacy of traditional industries such as mining, steel and shipbuilding, and the continuing importance of unionised sectors within the modern economy.

“The data reveal the fascinating variations in membership which reflect the unique biographies of individual localities. We hope the site will be of interest to researchers, the trade union community and all those with an interest in understanding union membership.”

Find out more

Why not find out how high union membership is in your area? Further information about our research on trade unions can be found on our website.

The team of researchers involved in WISERD’s study of trade union membership are presenting the latest findings at the 151st annual TUC Congress at the Brighton Centre today. Follow #WISERD_TUC19 for updates.