Union members earn more
The latest data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) show belonging to a trade union pays.
Across all professions, from managerial to labourers, median weekly earnings for employees who were trade union members in their main job were $1450 per week, compared with $1100 for employees who were not a trade union member (see table)
These ABS stats also show the typical trade unionists is now female, professional and degree qualified.
Women now make up a greater proportion of trade union members (55%) than men.
With 31% of its members belonging to a union, teaching and education is the profession with the highest union membership.
Union membership was lowest for people with non school qualifications (10%).
Professionals were the highest proportion of employees who were members, making up 21% of unionist, with community and personal service workers (18%) and machinery operators and drivers (17%) the other big groups.
Of the trade union members only 8% were casuals.
Now for the bad news. Since 1992 the proportion of employees who are trade union members has fallen from 40% to 14%.
Trade union membership tends to increase with age. In August 2020 only 5% of employees aged 15-19 years and 6% aged 20-24 were trade union members. This increased to 23% for employees aged 55-59 and 25% for employees aged 60-64.
With 1.4 million members trade unions are still a force to be reckoned with, but in order to ensure a fair future for workers, younger people need to be educated about and encouraged to join trade unions.