An Analysis of Trade Union Membership in Malta

Authors: Manwel Debono

Corresponding: Manwel Debono (

Keywords: Trade unions, density, membership, sociodemographics, survey, Malta


Issue: Xjenza Online Vol. 6 Iss. 1 - September 2018

Despite their crucial social role, trade unions in Europe are su ering from challenges relating to a widespread trend of declining membership levels. Public information on trade union membership levels in Malta is mainly obtained from reports compiled annually by the Department of Industrial and Employment Relations through administrative records provided by the trade unions. This study, the rst of its kind in Malta, o ers an alternative and more detailed examination of membership levels through a survey carried out among a representative national sample of 781 employees. This study reveals a lower trade union membership level than what is ocially reported. In line with foreign research, this study also indicates that the likelihood of being a trade union member increases among older employees, those who are in full-time or inde nite contracts, and those employed in the public sector. On the other hand, contrary to European trends, employees holding tertiary quali cations and higher level occupations are more likely to be unionised in Malta. Besides, male and female employees are equally likely to be unionised. This study concludes that, in order to prevent further decline in trade union density and membership, Maltese trade unions need to reorganise themselves, refocus their strategies and become more e ective in attracting and retaining non-traditional members.

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