The Impact of Trade Unions

This project will provide timely evidence on the activities and effects of trade unions in Britain, so as to inform discussions surrounding the Trade Union Bill 2015-16*. The Bill puts forward a range of measures affecting the activities of trade unions, and its merits have already been hotly debated. Our project will provide a balanced assessment of the effects of unions in Britain today. This will be obtained through a review of the recent research evidence and new analysis of the 2011 Workplace Employment Relations Survey (WERS).


The literature review will focus on the recent research evidence in relation to:

  • The incidence and structure of trade unions and union membership
  • The benefits of unionisation to workers, including effects on pay, skills and training, work-life balance, dispute resolution and worker wellbeing
  • The effects of unions on outcomes relevant to employers, notably productivity, profitability, innovation, labour turnover and staff absence

New analysis of the 2011 WERS will extend this evidence base by providing new evidence on:

  • The value of trade union facility time to members and employers
  • The outcomes from collective bargaining and employee consultation
  • The implications of union involvement in dispute resolution
  • Employer and employee attitudes to unionisation.

The project will update and extend earlier research into trade union membership and influence and trade union resources.

Timescale and funder

The project is funded by the Trades Union Congress (TUC). It began in January 2016 and will be completed in March 2016

*Trade Union Bill 2015-16