Results of the first annual survey of trade union use of the net

The total number of participants in the survey was 1,336 making it one of the largest we’ve ever done.

The countries providing the largest number of responses were predictably mostly Anglophone as the survey was only conducted in English this time. Here are the ten largest groups:

  • United Kingdom – 260
  • USA – 243
  • Canada – 236
  • Australia – 167
  • Ireland – 45
  • Norway – 40
  • New Zealand – 39
  • India – 32
  • Sweden – 23
  • Turkey – 20

How they access the net

Nearly all the respondents (92.5%) access the net at home, 71.3% at work, and 22.1% somewhere else.

And again, nearly all (91.9%) report having broadband access with only 4.1% still using dial-up modems.

Desktop computers remain the most widely used device to access the net (79.2%) but laptops, notebooks and notebooks are close behind with 70.8% using them. Smartphones are used by 31.4% of the respondents. Only 4.5% report using tablets like the iPad to access the net. And a small number — 2.6% — report using other devices.

The most popular browser remains Microsoft Internet Explorer which is used by 67.1%, but not far behind is Mozilla Firefox, used by 51.5%. (Clearly people use multiple browsers as the survey shows.) In third place is Google’s new Chrome browser, used by 26.5% of the respondents. Apple’s Safari browser has 18.6%, Opera has 4.8% and Other has 5.2%.

Use of social networks

Facebook is the most popular social network by far, with near unanimous use — 88.1% are Facebook members. UnionBook is the second most popular with 56% reporting membership. Of the other social popular social networks, LinkedIn has 29.1%, MySpace still has 11.4%, but Bebo and Orkut barely register with 1.2% and 2.0% respectively.

More than a third (36.2%) report being members of YouTube and only 13.5% are Flickr users.

Less than a third use Twitter (32.5%).

Second Life, the virtual world that one time was the subject of considerable interest in some unions has only 2.1% use.

When asked if the respondents participate in specifically trade union groups in those social networks, nearly two-thirds (63.7%) said yes.

And when asked if their unions had a presence in the social networks they belonged to, 58.8% also said yes.

When asked in which social networks their unions had a presence, Facebook once again dominates with 86.6%. Trailing behind are reported union presences on Twitter (33.5%), YouTube (24.7%) and UnionBook (21.7%).

Only 0.7% reported a union presence they were aware of on Second Life.

Union websites

Nearly all the respondents — 92.9% — reported that their national union has a website, and 27.1% say they visit that site daily. Another 64.1% say they visit their national union websites sometimes and only 8.8% say they never visit the sites.

When asked to rate their national union websites, 13.7% called it excellent and 50.9% rated it as good. Another 26.0% called the site average, 6.1% rated it as only fair, and only 3.3% called the site poor.

The results regarding local union websites were somewhat different.

Only 54.5% reported that the local union had a website and fully 10.5% didn’t know the answer to the question. Only 18.5% said they visited their local union website every day while 53.4% claimed to visit it sometimes. Fully 28.1% admitted to never visiting the local union website.

When asked to rate their local union websites, the numbers were once again much lower than for the national union websites.

Only 8.8% rated the site as excellent, 36.6% as good, 29.9% as average, 11.6% as fair, and 13.1% (four times the number as for national union sites) as poor.

Union apps for smartphones and tablets

When asked if the union has an app for smartphones or tables, the largest number of respondents (53%) said they did not know, while 42.5% said no. Only 4.5% said that their union had an app.

And 83.9% of those answering then said they did not use the app.

Wen asked to rate the union’s app — and only 127 survey participants answered this question — only 11% rated it as excellent, another 31.5% as good, 22.8% as average, 7.1% as fair and 27.6% as poor.

Union email lists

Nearly four-fifths of the respondents (78.8%) reported receiving regular email messages from their union, but 21.2% do not.

When asked to rate the content of those messages, 21.7% thought they were excellent and a majority (54.2%) rated them as good. 18.2% thought the union’s email messages were average, with only 5.9% rating them as fair or poor.


The majority of respondents (57%) reported that their union produces multimedia content for the net. 20.6% said their union does not, while 22.4% did not know.

When asked to rate the quality of the union’s multimedia content, 17.9% said excellent and a majority (50.1%) rated it as good. 24.3% called the union’s multimedia content only average with 7.7% rating it as fair or poor.

Prioritizing where to put resources and energy

When asked where they would like their union to devote more energy or resources in its online work, the most popular answers – the ones given highest priority – were email lists followed by online recruitment of new members. The ones given the lowest priority (not important at all) were internet radio broadcasts and apps for smartphones.

Use of existing pro-union websites and services

When asked which pro-union websites and services the respondents found useful (from a list), nearly all (93.3%) chose LabourStart while half (48%) chose UnionBook. Far behind these were UnionJobs (15.2%), Union Communication Services (12.9%) and Radio Labour (12.5%).

Written by admin in: Surveys |


  • We should do another soon.

    Comment | December 15, 2011
  • admin

    Good idea – at the end of January 2012 we’ll do it.

    Comment | December 15, 2011

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