Trends in union membership in Australia

Unions Trade unions Australia
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Executive summary

  • The number of union members in Australia has declined from around 2.5 million in 1976 to 1.5 million in 2016. During the same period the union member share of all employees (or union density) has fallen from 51 per cent to 14 per cent.
  • Young workers are much less likely to be union members than older workers and casual and/or part-time employees are less likely to be union members than full-time workers and permanent employees.
  • Industry union density is strongest in education and training and public administration and safety.
  • The biggest increases in union membership over the last decade and a half were recorded by the Police Federation of Australia (PFA) (up 92 per cent), Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) (up 84 per cent), and Independent Education Union of Australia (IEUA) (up 35 per cent).
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