Statistics on union membership
Our working conditions determine to a great extent our living conditions (and those of our families), which is why it is crucial to ensure adequate working conditions for all. Social dialogue is one of the main means to promote satisfactory working conditions, as well as peace and social justice. It includes negotiations and consultations among the different labour market actors, collective bargaining and dispute prevention and resolution. Successful social dialogue has the potential to resolve important economic and social issues and deal with economic crises in an effective way. The extent of social dialogue has a direct impact on stability, labour market governance and the economy as a whole.
Unions are independent workers’ organizations constituted for the purpose of furthering and defending the interests of workers. As such, they play a key role in the quest to achieve better remuneration and working conditions. Union membership, union density and unions’ bargaining power have a great impact on workers’ conditions.
In order to assess the extent of social dialogue, reliable data is needed on unions and unionization, employers’ organizations, collective bargaining and industrial disputes. This page presents statistics and other information on unionization around the world.
Table of contents
Social Dialogue Report 2022: Collective bargaining for an inclusive, sustainable and resilient recovery
The report examines the role of collective bargaining in mitigating the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on employment and earnings, helping to cushion inequality while reinforcing the resilience of enterprises and labour markets. The tailoring of public health measures and strengthening of occupational safety and health at the workplace, together with the paid sick leave and healthcare benefits provided for in many collective agreements, protected workers and supported the continuity of economic activity.
Database description: Industrial Relations (IRdata)
This database description provides a concise overview of concepts and definitions, uses, sources and limitations related to industrial relations, including collective bargaining and trade union membership.
Guidebook on How and why to collect and use data on industrial relations
This guidebook is intended to support ILO’s tripartite constituents in the collection of data on industrial relations, including on trade union membership, on the coverage of collective bargaining agreements and on strikes and lockouts.
Resolution concerning the methodology of the SDG Indicator 8.8.2 on labour rights
Adopted by the 20th ICLS (2018), this resolution sets an internationally agreed methodology to measure indicator SDG 8.8.2 on labour rights consistent with the Resolution adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on Work of the Statistical Commission pertaining to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (A/RES/71/313), Annex taken on 6 July 2017.
Decent Work Indicators - Guidelines for producers and users of statistical and legal framework indicators
Decent work is central to sustainable poverty reduction and is a means for achieving equitable, inclusive and sustainable development. The ILO Declaration on Social Justice for a Fair Globalization recommends the establishment of appropriate indicators to monitor the progress made in the implementation of the ILO Decent Work Agenda. The ILO is supporting member States through technical assistance and capacity building at national, sub-regional and regional levels in this regard.
Social Dialogue Indicators Collecting information through Labour Force Surveys
Freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining are at the core of decent work. They are fundamental rights at work and the foundations of sound industrial relations and effective social dialogue. Data and indicators on trade union membership and coverage of collective agreements, together with other qualitative indicators, are important for monitoring the progress made towards the effective realization of these rights at work. The measurement of these social dialogue indicators is also essential for assessing the quality of industrial relations and its impact on employment and working conditions.