Solidarity Library

Sunday, April 29, 2007


What is a Union?

You and your family need enough money to live comfortably and you’re entitled to a fair wage for the work you do.

We keep hearing about companies reporting record profits and bosses having their highest pay ever. But our wages aren’t keeping up with the cost of living. Housing is too expensive and food prices are rising. Minimum wage rises unions fought for are helping the lowest paid workers, but still isn’t enough. Companies continue to slash working conditions even from better paid jobs. Kiwis work some of the longest hours in the western world and have the lowest amount of family time.

Many don’t know that we have rights at work.
That’s where the union comes in.

A union is when we come together as workers to protect our rights and to get a better deal at work. As members of a union we support each other so that we don’t have to face a problem or negotiate improvements to our working conditions on our own. When we stick together we have a much better chance of getting a better deal and protecting what we currently have.
Unlike our jobs, a union is democratic and is run by us, the members. As a union member you have a say in determining what we do. You elect your workplace union reps (delegates) and decide what you focus on for your new collective agreement. You also have a say in how the wider union is run. You have a right under NZ law to be a union member.

Unions work.

It’s a fact than union collective agreements (contracts) have higher pay rates, pay rises and better conditions than non-union workplaces. Union members also get the added security of union organisers, lawyers, workplace representation when you need as well as other union benefits.
And you’re already benefitting from unions. Holidays, sick leave, minimum wage rises, paid parental leave and other benefits we take for granted today, didn’t simply fall out of the sky. These were once considered radical demands that were won when our parents and grandparents organised together collectively as a union.

The more of your co-workers who join the union, the stronger we are and the better the deal.

Being a union member is about making a difference for our friends, family, co-workers and our community. We lift the game for every other worker in New Zealand, most importantly for Maori, Pacific Islanders, women, youth and migrants who are disproportionately in lower paid jobs through no fault of their own.
We have a strong history of fighting against poverty, unemployment, the rising cost of living and for equal pay for women and the abolishment of youth rates. We have also fought for free education, multi-culturalism, recognition of Maori as Tangata Whenua, to keep NZ GE and nuclear free ,environmental sustainability and fair solutions to climate change.

We are an independent voice for workers.


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