New sectors to build our union in 2024

Mike Clancy, General Secretary · 28 March 2024

As I said in my blog at the start of the year, our ‘focus on growing our membership and delivering for you informs every decision about how the union is run. 

Because of this focus we have recently formally established two new sectors in the union. We are welcoming the Defence and Heritage sectors, alongside our existing sectors: Public Services, Energy, Bectu and IT and Telecoms. 

This means we now have six sectors in total representing workers across a huge swathe of the UK economy. As I often say, as a union we represent fascinating people, doing fascinating things, and the breadth of our sectors represents this. 

The founding conferences of the heritage and defence sectors represents the culmination of several years hard work by both representatives and staff with the support of the National Executive Committee (NEC). In fact, both represent the next step in many decades of work to co-ordinate in these areas across branches and employers. 

I would like to congratulate, Scott McKenzie-Cook (Science Museum Group), Lewis Robinson (National Trust), Helen Carp (AWE) and Lee Attwells (MOD: Defence Infrastructure Organisation), as the Presidents and Vice Presidents of the Heritage and Defence sectors respectively. They will be strong voices for their industries within the union. 

Why do we need new sectors? 

We believe that enhancing the role of sectors withing the union will help us to deliver more for members in several ways. 

Learning from for example the industry-wide campaigning that Bectu do in the creative industries; we want to campaign on issues of concerns shared by workers across a sector. This will raise the profile of these campaigns with employers and help find achieve the industry-wide solutions that will often be needed. 

Initially our defence will be focussing initially on tackling sexual harassment across the industry and raising defence spending to deliver more good UK jobs. The heritage sector will be focussing on delivering more resources and addressing low pay, building on our existing ‘world class heritage, second class pay’ campaign. 

Next, we want to share information better between workers at similar employers to inform our collective bargaining. This builds on work that happens in the energy sector, building common an understanding of issues like pay, conditions, equality and diversity and health and safety. 

Having a clearer industry focus also means we can build towards being the ‘go to’ expert voice of workers in these areas for the media and politicians, raising the profile of the union and win policy gains for members with government. 

The 12% 

One of the most shocking and important statistics in the trade union movement is that private sector trade union membership has now fallen to just 12% of the workforce. 

Prospect is helping to buck this trend. But the whole movement must do more. Prospect is now a majority private sector trade union, and each of our sectors, except for the Public Services Sector has significant private sector membership. This strong focus on the specific industries where we hope to represent workers will be one piece of puzzle in addressing this private sector trade union challenge. 

2024 is shaping up to be a considerable year of change for Prospect, with new sectors, a move to a new London headquarters and when we meet at our Conference in June welcoming a new NEC. 

It also looks likely, if the current opinion polls are accurate, that there may be considerable change for the country too. We will make sure our members voices are front and centre in the debate, and as a union not affiliated to a political party, we will be speaking up for them regardless of the outcome too. 

Building on the best of our heritage, delivering for members, and being ready to change to meet the needs of the future will be watchwords. If you are not a member yet, there has never been a more important time to join, and if you are already a member, maybe now is the time to become more involved in you union? 

aircraft carrier runway


We have more than 11,000 specialists, scientists, engineers and managers working in the defence industry.


From national museums to archaeological trusts, Prospect members are at the heart of our heritage sector.