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Why Join a Union
Working people first formed unions to protect themselves against sickness or injury at work. In those days there was no social welfare, no sick pay, and no accident compensation. Nor were machines safe, so injuries were common. The first unions had welfare funds to support those union members and their families who fell sick, or were disabled, widowed or orphaned. Union members also found they had more ability to improve their pay and working conditions by being an organised group. If they stuck together they had more bargaining power against powerful employers.
Who has the power?
The employer appears to have all the significant power. They do have wide powers which come from the law and they have control of the money, machines and buildings.
Unions have struggled to establish the rights of workers which limit the power of employers. These rights restrict employers, for example, when it comes to dismissal. Some of these rights are established in legislation like the:
Minimum Wage Protection Act,
Health & Safety in Employment Act and the
Employment Relations Act.
Others are negotiated into collective agreements.
Workers' power is their labour. Workers sell their labour, their time and their effort to the employer. Most workers feel if the company is making a profit then it can afford to pay a decent share to them.
Our power is being a collective force and we can withdraw our labour if we need to because employers can't do business without us.
The employer/worker relationship must be continually checked, or working conditions will become increasingly worse for workers.
Unions not only negotiate agreements to cover the wages and conditions of their members, but also have the responsibility of enforcing those agreements, such as preventing employers paying below the legal minimum.
When some people say "what do I get from the Union?" they’re asking a fair question. Part of the answer is in the representation members get from their union today. But what would you be paid and what conditions would you have if it hadn’t been for the union members who won these conditions in the past?
Your answers to these questions will help you decide whether you need a union!
Are you getting paid fair and square for the job that you do?
We can tell you that.
When was the last time you had a pay increase and how much was it?
Since the Employment Relations Act NDU members have been achieving good wage increases and improving on conditions of work.
Do you know what other workers who do the same job as you are paid?
We do, because we negotiate their agreements. We know the industry rates.
Do you have real input into your collective employment agreement?
Our job is to make sure that you do.
Do you have safe working conditions?
You must have proper health and safety standards at work. Your life depends on it.