Queensland unions struggle as membership numbers decline

THE state's unions are struggling, with member numbers declining by more than 21,000 last financial year, according to a recent report.

But the region's unions council is optimistic for local union stability.

The latest Queensland Industrial Relations Commission annual report reveals the state's union movement recorded a 5.5% drop in membership last financial year despite the introduction of a union encouragement policy by the Palaszczuk government.

The CFMEU lost more than 3000 members, about 11.5% of its membership base.

Queensland Council of Unions Rockhampton secretary Craig Allen said union numbers were dependent on the nature of the industry.

"Union membership figures are subject to rises and falls - that's the nature of the modern workforce, particularly in those high membership areas like manufacturing and mining," Mr Allen said.

"Last year these figures showed union membership in Queensland had increased by 5000 so there is volatility in the figures.

"Particular challenges to unions is the changing nature of work, and the decline of some industries traditionally highly unionised, such as manufacturing and mining.

"It's up to us as union leaders to show those thousands of potential members out there that being part of a union makes workers stronger and economies stronger."

He said the union encouragement policy followed a Palaszczuk government pre-election commitment to "restore the rights of workers to have free access to representatives of their unions".

"The union encouragement policy applies mostly to public sector industries," he said.

Union numbers

In 2013/14, total union membership across the state rose from 375,600 to 380,900

It then fell to 359,900 over the last financial year

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