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What is a Union?

What is a union?

A union is an organised group of workers who collectively use their strength to raise issues and have a voice in the workplace. Through a union, members are provided with information, advice and support to ensure that they are fairly rewarded for their work.

Unions were started by workers for workers to help people access their rights to impact wages, work hours, workplace health and safety, employment training and other work-related issues. Through the collective strength and influence of workers, unions have helped improve working conditions and won important changes for people in the workforce including holiday pay, equal pay for women, superannuation, sick pay and the 8-hour day.

Who can join a union?

Every worker can join a union. Whether you’re a full-time, part-time, casual, temporary, apprentice, trainee or contract worker, you’re eligible to become a union member.

Why join?

Being part of a union helps to protect your rights at work and to access advice and support from experts and workplace delegates. Unions provide workers with security and professional assistance surrounding different work-related issues such as:

  • Your wages and entitlements
  • Discrimination and harassment at work
  • Work related injuries or illness
  • Superannuation
  • Bargaining for better pay and conditions

As a union member, you gain strength and bargaining power from the collective influence of the union. Instead of an individual representing yourself, the union acts as a collective body of workers representing your best interests and the interests of other workers.

How much does it cost to be a union member?

Most union fees are around $10 per week but this also depends on the hours you work and the rate you are paid. All union fees in Australia are fully tax deductible.

How do I join a union?

When you begin a new job you should be made aware of the union representative at your workplace. Every workplace has a union rep you can go to and ask them how to join the right union for your job. If you are unsure about what the right union is for you, you can call Australian Unions on 1300 486 466 or visit www.australianunions.org.au to gain assistance.

Unions are SO important to maintaining your rights at work, check out Your Work Rights for more information.