Britain’s biggest union launches new recruitment ad as membership ‘surges’ during the pandemic

Trade union membership, already on an upward trend, has 'surged' during the pandemic

A new campaign to boost the record number of public service workers who’ve joined the UK’s largest union since the start of the pandemic was launched on Monday. Encouraging people to join UNISON, the message of the 60-second animated film is that no worker should feel alone during uncertain times.

Created by GOOD Agency and animation studio Coffee & TV, the advert is being screened on Sky, ITV, Channel 4 and YouTube. Its core message is to highlight the benefits of ‘reassurance, peace of mind and security’ that being part of a union brings.

The union is experiencing a membership surge, with 90,000 new members joining by the end of May, up 23% from the same period last year. Trade union membership was already soaring prior to the pandemic, with 91,000 people joining in 2019, making it the third year that saw unions grow in members.

According to UNISON a quarter of this year’s membership rise came in May alone with 23,040 joining, 51% up from the same month last year. There has been a large increase of recruitment among school support staff, with four times as many (308%) joining in in May compared to the same period in 2019.

Following UNISON’s campaigning on behalf of those working in the social care sector, there has been a 135% year-on-year membership increase in May.The union said that nearly three in ten (31%) of new members work in the private sector.

UNISON assistant general secretary Liz Snape said: “Even when times are good, everyone in work should be in a union. With the added challenges of life during the pandemic, it’s more important than ever.

“Unions aren’t just for when things go wrong, but are there to improve working lives too.
They hold poor employers to account, help workers’ improve their skills and work with governments to ensure work is safe and fair.”

She added that while thousands in the NHS, social care, schools, police forces and local government have joined during the pandemic, there are still many non-union workers who ‘need support and advice’

Sophia Dourou is a freelance journalist

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