Nine reasons why unions are important

9 February 2016 - 10:15am
News

There are so many reasons unions are important. Many of the rights we enjoy at work have been won because of union campaigns. To mark #heartunions week, here are just nine reasons:

1. Unity is Strength – unions provide workers with a powerful, collective voice to communicate to management their dissatisfaction and frustration

War on Want partners, the National Garment Workers’ Federation (NGWF) in Bangladesh is strengthening the trade union movement across Bangladesh by setting up factory-level unions challenging labour rights abuses within factories. It also promotes workers’ rights through targeted campaigning, by lobbying the government, factory owners and multinational corporations for stronger legislation and its enforcement.

2.  Unions negotiate better terms and conditions

All aspects of working life should be the subject of discussion and agreement between employers and employees under the protection of a trade union. Trained representatives of the union lead these negotiations.

3. You get more annual leave in a unionised workplace

Unions won the right for workers to have paid holidays. The average trade union member in the UK gets over 25% more annual leave a year, compared with a non-unionised worker.

4. You earn more in a unionised workplace

Trade union members earn on average 10% more than non-unionised members.

5. You get more maternity leave, paternal and carer leave

Unionised workplaces are much more likely to have maternity, paternal and carer leave policies in place which are more generous than the statutory minimum.

6. Better job security

Trade union members are more likely to stay in their jobs longer, on average five years more than non-unionized workers.

7. Unions fight for equal opportunities in the workplace. They stand for equal pay and treatment and against discrimination

War on Want partner FTZ-GSEU in Sri Lanka have been at the forefront of battling for workers for over 30 years. Free Trade Zones have eroded rights for workers around the globe. In Sri Lanka, as elsewhere, it is mainly women who are exploited by their reduced regulations and minimal protection for labourers.

8. Union workplaces are safer

There are 50% fewer accidents in unionised workplaces. Local safety reps deal with issues ranging from stress and mental health issues to hazardous substances.

9. Unions offer legal services and advice

This is especially important now that the UK government has restricted the ability of many workers to pursue valid claims by introducing fees of £1200 for employment tribunals.

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