6333.0 - Characteristics of Employment, Australia, August 2016 Quality Declaration 
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 02/05/2017   
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TRADE UNION MEMBERSHIP IN THEIR MAIN JOB1

Employees and OMIEs in main job

Trade union membership for employees and OMIEs has generally declined since 1992. From August 1992 to August 2016, the proportion of those who were trade union members in their main job has fallen from 40% to 15% (43% to 13% for males and 35% to 16% for females). (Datacube 16)

In August 2016, of employees and OMIEs in their main job;

  • 1.5 million were trade union members in their main job;
  • 16% of full-time workers and 12% of part-time workers were trade union members in their main job; and
  • Tasmania had the highest proportion (21%) who were trade union members in connection with their main job, while Western Australia had the lowest proportion (12%).

Employed persons in main job1

In August 2016, there were 1.6 million employed persons who were trade union members in their main job. Persons in the Education and training, and the Public administration and safety industry divisions, had the highest proportion of trade union membership in their main job (both 31%). (Datacube 18)

The occupation group that had the highest proportion of trade union members in their main job was Professionals (20%), followed by and Machinery operators and drivers (18%).

Other characteristics of trade union members in their main job include:
  • 51% were females;
  • 92% of employees had paid leave entitlements;
  • 38% of public sector workers were members of a trade union in their main job, compared to only 9% of private sector workers;
  • The mean weekly earnings in main job was $1,360, compared to $1,189 for those who were not trade union members; (Datacube 19)
  • The median weekly earnings in main job was $1,211, compared to $1,000 for those who were not trade union members;
  • Only 4% of employed persons aged 15-19 years and 7% of employed persons aged 20-24 were trade union members in their main job; (Datacube 17) and
  • 21% of employed persons aged 55–59 years were trade union members and of those 88% have been for over five years.

1 From 2014, all employed people were asked about whether they were members of a trade union. In previous years, only employees and owner managers of incorporated enterprises were asked if they were members of a trade union.