Joining a trade union

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Union negotiations with your employer

When an employer and a union agree to negotiate on pay, terms and conditions, this agreement is called ‘recognition’ of the union. The negotiations are called ‘collective bargaining’.

How collective bargaining works

Your employer and trade union must agree on how collective bargaining will be done including:

  • which union, rep or official will represent a group of workers or employees (this group is called a ‘bargaining unit’)
  • who is included in the bargaining unit
  • how often meetings will take place
  • what issues they’ll discuss
  • how disagreements will be handled
  • how collective bargaining will work if more than one union is recognised

Collective agreements

Agreements reached through collective bargaining are called collective agreements and they often mean a change in your employment terms and conditions.

Collective agreements can cover all staff - not just union members.

Your employment contract may say which collective agreements cover you if:

  • your employer recognises more than one trade union
  • 1 union is recognised to negotiate for more than 1 bargaining unit