Entering the job market for the first time can be exciting! Among the decisions, you need to make include whether or not to join a union associated with your company. Unions play a crucial role in any workplace. Whether it’s a police union or the trade union associated with your construction company, these organisations are still relevant today.
Find out more about why you should join an Australian union in today’s article.
Is Joining a Union Compulsory in Australia?
The principles concerning the freedom of association in Australian law, employees aren’t obligated to join a union. The Fair Work Act 2009 prohibits an employer from discriminating against an employee for their choice to join or not join a union.
How Much Are Union Fees in Australia?
On average, union fees vary around $10 per week. This could be slightly higher or even lower, depending on your wage rate and the hours you work per week. The good news is these fees are fully tax-deductible.
Issues Unions Deal With
Without a union, you might find yourself in a difficult situation if you’re faced with any unlawful accusations or requests. Unions specialise in several key issues which involve the following:
- Breaches or instances of discrimination laws
- Breaches of safety laws
- Breaches of workplace laws and conditions
- Ensuring employers meet legislative obligations
- General wage and compliance bargaining
- Support for harassment or bullying
- Expert advice on possible unfair working hours
Benefits to Joining a Union in Australia
One of the questions people ask when they’re considering joining a union is how it will benefit them. Talking to different colleagues will give you varying answers to this question.
For starters, employees who have been part of a union have benefited from important rights such as annual leave, sick pay and even penalty rates. Read on to see what other benefits there are to joining a union.
1. Expert Advice When You Need it
It’s ideal if you work in an environment where everyone works well together. But, that situation could change at any time. If you ever find yourself in a situation where you’re facing harassment, unfair dismissal or wage-related queries a union can assist you.
Being part of a union means you have access to expert advice from professionals. This will help you in identifying whether or not your rights are being violated.
2. Better Working Conditions
Being part of a union will ensure you work in an environment where labour regulations are being adhered to. Unions ensure that employees are not forced to work in difficult or unsafe conditions.
Unions can also ensure that employees receive their allocated leave entitlements such as sick leave and holiday leave. If these types of entitlements are being denied to an employee, a union representative can defend your rights in discussions with the employer.
3. Salary Negotiations
When it’s time for companies to discuss salary increases, the bargaining process involves the union. Unions will advise employees on the proposed wage increases.
Unions will also negotiate for better increases if the employees feel the proposed amount is unfair. This might give employees some peace of mind knowing that someone is “fighting” for them!
4. Informed on Industry Changes
As an employee, you might not always be privy to legislation and changes within your work environment. Unions make it their business to keep up to date with the latest news that affects their members.
This type of information could notify employees in advance if there’s any potential job cuts, company closures or even job description changes. This gives employees a sense that they’re not being excluded from decisions regarding their livelihoods.
5. Protecting Your Rights
All employees work by a certain code of rights. These rights define what an employer may expect from their staff members. While all companies are governed by Australian law, it doesn’t prevent some employers from taking advantage of their employees.
Union members can rest assured that their unions keep a watchful eye on the way employees are treated. Should the need arise for intervention, this will also be handled by your union representative.
6. Representation in Industrial Action
If an employee finds themselves in an unfortunate situation regarding industrial action, they’ll need union representation.
The union representative will be well versed in the employee’s rights. They’ll also strive to present a resolution that benefits the employee without being unfair.
8. Proper Remuneration
If you find yourself in a situation where you’ve been working overtime and not receiving proper compensation for it, unions will be able to ensure the matter is properly addressed.
In general, union workers receive better salaries. Employees within a union collective receive an average of $100 a week more. There are also better sick leave benefits for you if you’re part of the union.
8. Exclusive Member Benefits
By deciding to join a union you’ll get a host of other benefits such as discounts on the following:
- Car hire
- Banking services
- Financial planning
- Movie tickets
- Home and personal loans
Joining a union is a personal decision. If you’re on the fence about joining, speak to colleagues who have joined and get their input on the assistance they’ve received.
It’s important to remember that unions are there to negotiate, mediate and bargain for your rights, your salary and your future within a company. Unions provide employees with a voice in their workplaces!