Support 110 years of independent journalism.

Countries with high trade union membership are more equal

Nordic countries have the highest rates of union membership and the lowest income inequality.

By Saywah Mahmood

UK rail workers have rejected the latest Network Rail pay offer and will walk out again this week. The industrial action, organised by the RMT union, has been called due to the long-running dispute over pay and working practices.

There has been growing anger among employees over wages. Analysis of ONS data by the New Statesman found that public sector wages have fallen by 4.4 per cent since 2010, while private sector wages have risen by 4.3 per cent in the same time period.

Data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) shows that, in 2019, nearly a quarter of UK employees were members of a trade union; this is significantly lower than in many other European countries. The UK also has a higher Gini coefficient, a measure of income inequality.


By contrast, many Nordic countries have far lower income inequality and higher trade union membership. In Iceland, where 92.2 per cent of workers belong to a union, the Gini coefficient is just 26.1, compared with 35.1 in the UK and 41.5 in the US, where just 10.3 per cent of workers are union members.

This article was originally published on 22 June 2022.

Select and enter your email address Your weekly guide to the best writing on ideas, politics, books and culture every Saturday. The best way to sign up for The Saturday Read is via saturdayread.substack.com The New Statesman's quick and essential guide to the news and politics of the day. The best way to sign up for Morning Call is via morningcall.substack.com
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how Progressive Media Investments may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
THANK YOU

Content from our partners
What you need to know about private markets
Work isn't working: how to boost the nation's health and happiness
The dementia crisis: a call for action

Topics in this article : ,