Union members could earn up to £60,000 more than non union members over their working lives, according to new research.

TUC analysis published today shows that unionised workers are paid on average five percent more than other similar workers. 

Heart Unions 2022

It’s to mark Heart Unions, which is a week long initiative to boost union membership and runs until Sunday (Feb 20th, 2022).The TUC says union workers have access to better bargaining power  – which means they can win higher pay.

Based on average pay, the typical union pay premium is to £12,800 over a decade.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “With fuel bills rocketing, the cost of living going up every month but pay at a standstill, Britain needs a pay rise.

“If you’re all in a union, your employer will have to sit down and negotiate a fair pay rise with you.  But if you’re not in a union, you have little bargaining power. And you lose out – big time.”

Traditionally, Heart Unions is a TUC initiative that sees unionised members encouraging colleagues not in a trade union to join up. However other unions join in with the message. Unite has started a campaign thanking its members and encouraging them to get others to join. 

There are also activities like rallies and webinars hosted throughout the week to keep the momentum going. 

Recent union wins

In December in Salford, UNISON says combined pressure from its members caused social care Anchor Hanover to agree that minimum pay should go up to the real living wage. At £9.90, this is almost £1 more than the current national minimum wage rate of £8.91 that many Anchor Hanover care workers were on.

Anchor Hanover denies the decision was made because of pressure from union members. In a statement, Anchor’s Managing Director of Care Services, Robert Martin said: “This decision was made after careful review to ensure it was sustainable beyond any interim funding offered by local and central government.  As an organisation it was crucial that any pay increase was implemented fairly and consistently regardless of geographical area.”

Meanwhile, GMB members driving waste collection HGVs in Eastbourne won a major pay rise after they were denied the going rate for their work.

Council managers offered £10.50 an hour, an amount well below industry standard for skilled HGV drivers. And when managers refused to negotiate an improved offer, the drivers balloted to go on strike.

After six days of industrial action, a new agreement was reached. Their pay has gone up to £11.50 per hour for this year, and will go up to £13.50 by April 2023.

Gary Palmer, GMB Organiser, said: “The people of Eastbourne backed our members all the way. They know the cost of living is high here. And they know it’s wrong to deny workers the going rate for their job. We won because our members know their worth – and together they had the power together to stand their ground for what’s right.”

Ms O’Grady had this message for Ministers: “The best way to get pay rising is to make employers negotiate fair pay rises with unions. That’s why we need fair pay deals, binding on every employer in a sector, and the right for unions to go into every workplace to recruit members. It’s time to end the pay squeeze of the last twelve years.”