Membership declining fast

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Trade unions need to recruit 500,000 members before the millennium if they are to halt a long-term decline in membership, according to a report out today. Membership has slipped by more than 1.7 million since 1989 and stood at 7.3 million in 1995. Unions need to target new sectors to stem the fall, says the report, Facing the Future, drawn up by the TUC.

It blames the drop on the decline in the manufacturing industry, more part-time and temporary jobs, high unemployment and a hostile political climate during the 1980s which led to anti-union legislation.

Union membership fell most dramatically among male and manual employees and those in production industries, the report adds. Membership levels among women, part-time workers and non-manual employees have been less affected.

The report says unions ought to target the growing sectors of employment including professionals, women and part-time workers, as well as those in personal and protective services, which are set to soar by the year 2001.