3rd annual survey of trade union use of the net – the results

Here’s the summary prepared by Edd Mustill:

The respondents were a real mix of union members, many holding some sort of union position from branch upwards, but many lay members too. The comments also reveal that a number of retired members responded. The gender imbalance – about two-thirds male – is noticeable.

There have been big increases in the number of union members accessing the net on tablets, and smartphones continued to grow in popularity too. This accounts, no doubt, for the large number of people who now access the internet while travelling, making round the clock engagement more necessary than ever.

Google continues its surge in popularity, both in the use of its Chrome browser, and its social network Google+ (although how active Google+ members are on the network is open to question).

Facebook remains by far the most popular social network, but Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+ are all growing. Unions have responded to this well on Twitter, building themselves a good presence there, but are so far lagging behind their members when it comes to engaging with LinkedIn and Google+: 42.1% of members reported being on LinkedIn, but only 8.9% reported their union having a presence there. 26.6% are on Google+, but only 5.5% have noticed a union presence.

Members seem happy with the quality of online content they receive from their unions, whether it be an email newsletter or a video. But there are still large numbers – even among those filling out this survey – who don’t know whether their union produces, for example, online videos or a smartphone app. This suggests unions may need to do more to promote their online work to their members.

Some of the most interesting and potentially useful results came when we asked people what online work unions should be prioritising. Online campaigning and recruitment were favourites, and there was a big appetite for practical, day-to-day help to be made readily available on websites. The top 3 things that people wanted to see on union websites were: tips on workers’ rights, training for activists, and describing working conditions in companies.

To read a much more detailed account, click here to download the PDF file.

To see the full results of the survey, visit this password-protected site.  (Ask us for the password.)

Here is the same thing for the French survey.

Written by admin in: Surveys |


  • Mmmmm…Thanks Edd.

    Comment | March 23, 2013
  • Just read the full report. Many thanks for this Edd.

    I’m going to build a summary and a few details into the column I write for a magazine here in Canada. Everyone feel free to e-mail me if there are pieces that should stay in the shadows.

    Comment | March 26, 2013
  • I’d like to suggest that we systematically tag all FB posts, mailings, tweets etc., and that we try at least to get anyone else doing mailings re. our campaigns to do the same so that we can start to develop a sense of what platforms are most effective in terms of their responses rates (e.g. number of campaign participants. It might require more discipline on our part than we have summoned-up before, but the results would, I think, be both interesting and useful.

    Comment | July 16, 2013

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