Socialist Worker

Strikes build unions—fact

by Simon Basketter
Issue No. 2288

The latest union membership figures show that unions grow when they fight back.

In the run-up to the 30 November strike over pensions a number of the unions involved saw significant growth.

This was despite the impact of job cuts.

Unison, the biggest public sector union, recruited over 175,000 new members last year.

That is the highest amount since Unison was formed in 1993.

Importantly, a third of all the members who joined Unison last year did so in October and November.

In the West Midlands in the ten days before the strike ballot opened, 640 people joined Unison. This included 315 student nurses.

After the strike ballot result was announced, applications to join the union more than doubled, rising by 126 percent nationally.

Other unions saw similar growth. Some 2,500 people joined the lecturers’ UCU union in November 2011.

The GMB reports that 12,000 people joined in November and 8,000 in October.

This compares to 7,000 and 6,000 in 2010.

Unite saw 6,600 public sector workers join in the last six months of 2011.

Prospect recruited 1,111 new members in November. That is the most in a month since the union was set up.

And the Chartered Society of Physiotherapists saw a 15 percent increase in membership last year.


Figure it out

126%

rise in applications to join Unison after 30 November strike result announced

12,000

joined the GMB in November, compared with 7,000 in November 2010


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