To get the best results for union members, unions need as many members as possible in every workplace.
More members means stronger unions
With enough members, unions can make employers sign recognition agreements, so that they can negotiate on pay and other contractual terms and conditions.
And the more members unions have, the better results the workplace reps and employed negotiators can get for their members, because more members sticking together means more bargaining power for the union. Every non-member makes the union that little bit weaker.
Your union needs you!
Unions also need the active involvement of their members. Yes, you can join a union without getting more involved - you don’t have to play an active role in your union, but why would you not want a say in what goes on at work?
Remember: unions are democratic organisations, so they need to gather the views and input from as many members as possible. There are lots of ways you can help, including:
- Talking to other members about workplace issues and feeding back to your rep
- Speaking to non-members about why they should join
- Taking some union newsletters back to your work area and handing them out
- Attending workplace or union branch meetings and putting your views across
Why not become a rep yourself?
If there isn’t a rep in your area or on your shift, you might think about volunteering for the role.
Unions need their workplace reps to reflect the make-up of the membership, so they need young members to come forward. That makes sure issues young workers feel are important are taken on board by the union, and having young people as reps also helps other young workers see that they need to be members too.
So your union will probably be very keen to get you up and running as a rep, but you may need the union and the employer to reach an agreement about this. Talking to your union rep or full-time official is the first step. If there are other young apprentices in your workplace, you could suggest that you represent that group of apprentices.
Other reps will also advise you on the process for getting elected or appointed, support you in the role, and help you get on a training course to develop your rep skills and knowledge. As an elected rep you have the right to paid time out of work to train.