Labour Research March 2012

Union news

Union websites lose appeal

A survey of trade unionist internet users in six English-speaking countries finds that the number making daily use of their union websites has fallen in the last year.

The second annual survey by Labourstart, the online news service aimed at the international trade union movement, reached 2,605 trade unionists in the UK, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Ireland compared with 1,336 last year. (A separate survey, with 265 respondents, was carried out for French-speaking trade unionists).

It found that while nearly all national unions in these countries had websites, only one in five survey respondents visited them daily — a considerable drop on the previous year. The picture was worse for local and branch union websites.

However, Labourstart found that four in five respondents received regular e-mail messages from their union, and that union members were largely satisfied with these communications.

The researchers warned: “While investing in the latest social media fad (like Second Life) may seem ‘cool’, members want to receive information in their e-mail inboxes.”

The survey found a tripling of the number of respondents using tablets to access the net compared with 2011, and another large jump in the number of smartphone users.

And it found that, while Facebook is the most popular social network used by trade unionists, there was a sudden jump in the use of LinkedIn, now used by nearly two in five.