Trade unions have been part of Australia's industrial relations system since it was established nearly a century ago. They are representative organisations that campaign on behalf of their members to achieve the best possible working conditions, and which represent employees in negotiations and disputes. They also lobby government in relation to a variety of issues including tax, childcare, and social justice matters.
The peak union body, the (ACTU) plays a key role in wage fixing in Australia through submissions in National Wage Cases (which set minimum rates of pay for award-covered employees) from time to time. Trade unions (especially those that cover professional employees) are also sometimes called 'professional associations'.
Once you become a member of a union you are bound by its rules and are obliged to pay membership fees. You will be required to give notice if you intend to resign from the union for any reason, such as if you are no longer going to work in that industry.
What benefits are there in joining a union?
Unions can represent their members in a number of areas, including:
- Negotiating the terms and conditions of awards and enterprise agreements or Australian Workplace Agreements (AWAs) with employers;
- Investigating suspected breaches of award or underpayment of wages;
- Health and safety and workers compensation issues;
- Unfair dismissals;
- Sexual harassment and discrimination claims;
- Industrial disputes.
These matters often involve dealings with parties such as industry bodies, employer associations or the government, or representation in the Industrial Relations Commission, Equal Opportunity Commission, or the courts.
If you are already a member of a union, you can contact them if you have any further queries. There may also be an employee in your workplace who has been elected as a union delegate who can contact the union on your behalf. If you want to join the union, or are seeking further information
Australasian Meat Employees Union (South Australian Branch)
Phone : (08) 8279 2200 Fax: (08) 8279 2201