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Joining a Trade Union

By: Emma Jones - Updated: 18 Jan 2013 | comments*Discuss
 
Joining A Trade Union

Some people’s images of trade unions are outdated and involve people working in pits and threatening picket lines. You may not think that trade unions still have an important role in today’s workplaces, but they do.

Joining a trade union can help protect you against any unfair treatment by an employer. They campaign for your rights, band together to protest against any bad decisions and help you out if you need to take action against your employer.

What a Trade Union Does

There are hundreds of different trade unions across all the different industry sectors. There are also more than one in many job areas and you will have to decide whose policies you agree with most. A trade union is basically an organised group of workers who rally for the rights of their members.

There is a long history of trade unions in manual labour but they exist across all types of employment. A trade union will charge you a membership fee to be part of it and then you will have say in the decisions that it makes.

Why Join a Trade union?

Joining a trade union helps give you protection against any unfair treatment by your employer. They can help to negotiate better pay and working conditions for their members. They also act as a source of help and support and put on extra training to help with your career.

Sometimes you may never need to use your union for years but then if something goes wrong they will be there to support you. A union representative will accompany you to any grievance, disciplinary hearing or unfair dismissal that you may have and help you through the situation.

How to Join a Trade Union

Trade unions are always keen for new members so it is quite easy to join. Either you can approach the union directly or talk to the TUC who will be able to advise you. If there is more than one union within your industry then you may want to look into what they offer and the policies that they hold before deciding which one to join.

The larger and more recognised unions will hold more weight with employers. You will usually have to prove what your job is and pay the membership fee and then you will be invited along to a preliminary meeting.

Union Rights

Most unions are recognised by employers through voluntary agreements. Then when there is a dispute the union will collectively bargain for their members’ rights. These rights can be to do with pay, holiday, working conditions or other issues such as training.

As part of a union you will get to vote on the issues and as a group the course of action will be decided. The law protects you from being discriminated against by an employer because you are part of a union and you are allowed time off to vote on union matters.

Being part of a trade union is not an outdated concept and can be a powerful tool in negotiating with employers. It is straightforward to join a union and then they will rally for your rights and will be a source and help and support if you have to take any action against your employer.

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