ABS Release: Employee Earnings, Benefits and Trade Union Membership - 38/2012

Release date: 29/05/2012

Dear Colleagues

The ABS released Employee Earnings, Benefits and Trade Union Membership (EEBTUM) today, which outlines the latest trade union membership figures from August 2011. The results from the release are positive.

Union membership:
• The proportion of employees who are trade union members in their main job has increased slightly from 18.3% in 2010 to 18.4% in 2011.
• In August 2011, 1.8 million people were trade union members, an increase of 46,900 from the previous year.
• Union density amongst public sector employees increased to 43.4% in August 2011. An increase in raw numbers of 73,800, with 737,400 total members in the sector.
• Density amongst private sector employees decreased from 13.8% to 13.2%, a decrease in raw numbers of 26,900 to 1,097,300 total private sector members.
• Density amongst men increased from 17.9% to 18.4% while density amongst women decreased from 18.7% to 18.3%.
Some industries showed strong growth – density in Transport, Postal and Warehousing increased from 28.8% to 32.2%, in Public administration and safety density increased from 33.0% to 35.5% and in Information media and telecommunications it increased from 12.1% to 14.4%.
• Density decreased in most states, with the exception of New South Wales and Victoria.

Union premiums:
• Employees who were trade union members earned on average $1189 a week, compared to $1029 for a non-union member. Representing a union wage premium of $160 a week or 15.5%, an increase on the 2010 figure of $124 a week.
• 91.6% of union members had paid leave entitlements, compared to only 65.5% of non-union members. Showing that there is a clear premium for union members when it comes to paid leave entitlements.
• Almost all trade union members received superannuation paid by employers, at 97.8%, compared to 88.4% of non-union members.

The full release can be found at the ABS website here: Features1August 2011?OpenDocument

Attached to this circular is an extract from the ABS release, a graph showing union density from 1990 to 2011 and a spread sheet of the headline density numbers by industry.

The ACTU will examine the release closely and if required compile a short discussion paper to be released in the near future. As in previous years the ACTU will also be producing the report ‘Urgency and Opportunity’ analysing the release using unpublished data. A special order for the additional data will be placed to facilitate this.

Please contact Rhiannon Carter on 03 9664 7308 or at if you wish to discuss this circular or other matters relating to this data further.

In Unity

Tim Lyons
ACTU Assistant Secretary 

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