'Unions are setting the agenda'

Online interest in trade union membership soars amid strikes and cost of living crisis

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A recent surge in Google searches for joining a trade union has been matched by rising membership numbers across the union movement.

iNews reported today (June 24) that Google searches for ‘join a union’ were up 184 per cent on a week ago. Meanwhile, the TUC highlighted that online enquiries into trade union membership in general were up by 700 per cent.

And amid the biggest rail strikes in 30 years, searches for RMT union general secretary Mick Lynch, who has won widespread acclaim for his media appearances, have soared by 1,400 per cent in the last week.

The surge in online interest in joining a trade union comes amid the worst cost of living crisis in generations, with pay lagging far behind skyrocketing inflation. Industrial action to reverse this unprecedented attack on living standards has increased significantly – especially among Unite members.

Under the leadership of Unite general secretary Sharon Graham, who was elected last year and has brought a renewed focus on the workplace, Unite members have been involved in more than 300 disputes, winning three out of four, which has delivered more than £50m in pay rises for tens of thousands of workers.

Unite confirmed that the number of new joiners is up considerably compared to this period last year, and that many new Unite members are from sectors in the economy that don’t have a long history of unionisation, such as hospitality.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said that it was never more important to join a trade union than now.  

“More workers are joining unions because they can see it is the only way to fight back against the attacks on their living standards,” she said. “The system is rigged in favour of profiteering corporates who get fat by driving up inflation and holding down wages and politicians are unwilling or unable or to stop it. Unions are now setting the agenda.”

 “In Unite, we’ve delivered £50 million pounds for tens of thousands of workers, taking on and beating some of the most cut-throat employers,” Graham added. “Workers know that Unite will always fight for their jobs, pay and conditions.”

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady agreed, saying that industrial action featured in the media such as this week’s rail strikes have energised others to unionise.

 “Seeing workers defend their jobs pay and conditions has reminded people just how important it is to be in a union – especially during this current cost of living emergency,” she said. “Banding together with your workmates is the best way to get a fair deal at work.

“If you’re in a union, your employer will have to sit down and negotiate with you. But if you’re not, you have little bargaining power.”

By Hajera Blagg

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