A union is an organisation which supports employees in the workplace by acting as an advocate for them and standing up for their rights. They often act as a middle person between employers and employees. Unions bargain for conditions in collective agreements and help employees with work related issues. You pay a fee to become a member of a union.
Under the law, you have the right to choose to join or not join a union. Your employer is not allowed to influence your choice.
Before you start a job, your employer has to tell you if there is a collective agreement covering the work you will be doing. A collective agreement is an employment agreement which is negotiated by a union covering the union members in the workplace.
If you are a member of a union when you commence your employment, and there is a collective agreement in place covering the work that you do, you are automatically bound by the collective agreement. You and your employer may agree to additional terms on an individual basis, but these cannot be less favourable or inconsistent with the collective agreement.
Click here for further information about employment agreements when commencing employment.
There are unions for different kinds of workplaces and jobs so if you are thinking about joining a union, find out about the ones which relate to the work you do. Click here [PDF 5 pages, 117kb] for links to unions.