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LEARN - Unions

The Political Hatchling's Guide to...



Unions are organisations formed to protect and advocate for worker's rights. This includes collective bargaining for wages, hours and conditions of work, helping employees with information, and advice about work related issues. Unions can also act as a form of insurance for workers to get help when they need it. 


You might want to join a union for...

Job security. Unions negotiate contracts (called collective agreements) that provide secure working hours and prohibit termination without cause.

Support with complaints processes. Unions provide representation and advice for disciplinary hearings, and can help you hire a lawyer.

Benefits. Unions often offer discounts at certain stores and deals with certain businesses.


Some potential issues you might have with joining a union might be...

Fees. Unions often require that you pay a percentage of your income for membership.

Performance issues. Unions can make it difficult for businesses to fire or promote employees based on skill.


Nope! Being a member of a union is a choice. Employers cannot pressure you to join a union, nor discriminate against employees who participates in union events. It is illegal in NZ to dismiss an employee for joining or attempting to form a union. It used to be illegal to not be a member of a union. Find out more about the history of unions here. 

Unions must have at least 15 members. The health and community services industry has the most unionists with 100,357. The education sector is the next largest union group with 86,158 members.

Recently, you might have heard of nurses and teachers unions striking for better wages and work conditions. Find out more about strikes here.