Ten reasons why unions are important

12 February 2018 - 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 ten reasons:

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

In January 2017, Fast Retailing, parent company of fashion giant UNIQLO, bowed to public pressure and announced that it would make its supply chain public. This followed War on Want and its partner SACOM's campaign targeted at UK high street fashion brands and specifically UNIQLO.

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 on behalf of employees.

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. You have someone on your side when you need them

By being a union member, you are always part of something bigger, and have the support of the union when you need it.

8. 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 has 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.

9. 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.

10. Unions offer legal services and advice

After a four year battle, UNISON won a landmark court victory and overturned the government’s introduction of tribunal fees. Anyone who has been treated illegally or unfairly at work will no longer have to pay to take their employers to court. Employees no longer have to find £1200 and unscrupulous employers no longer have the upper hand. Even better, the government has to refund more than £27m to the thousands of people charged for taking claims to tribunals since July 2013, when the government introduced the fees.  

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