WHAT ARE TRADE UNIONS?

Unions are organisations which represents the interests of their members. There are many different types of unions covering all types of work, for example

  • Airline Staff
  • Bank Employees
  • Bus drivers
  • Cleaners
  • People in call centres
  • Shop workers

No matter what job you choose, there will be a Union for you to join.

HOW DOES A UNION WORK?

Unions seek to improve the pay and working conditions of their members and campaign for improvements in living standards and the quality of life. They do this in two ways:

 

  1. WORKPLACE ROLE
    A Union negotiates with employers to reach agreements on a range of employment matters such as pay, holidays, sickness schemes, hours of work, health and safety, and pensions. These agreements are honoured by both employers and employees and are often arrived at through a partnership approach. Unions try to create a good working relationship between the workers and management.  However occasions do arise where workplace relations do break down and a trade union will represent its member in individual disputes and grievances with their employer e.g. where employers break the law or a collective agreement.
 
  1. SOCIAL ROLE
    Through a Partnership approach at national level Unions campaign and negotiate to achieve better standards from government, which may well involve changes in the law. These changes could not be achieved by Unions or employers in individual workplaces.

 

Listed below are some of the rights Unions have campaigned for which you may be familiar with

  • Minimum wage
  • Equality
  • Social Inclusion
  • Parental leave
  • Unemployment benefit
  • Tax reform

Unions continue to campaign on many issues affecting people’s lives, both inside and outside the workplace.

 

HOW CAN I BECOME A MEMBER?

For most people whether in full-time, part-time or temporary employment, the usual way to become a member is to approach the Union representative in your workplace. You then fill out a form, pay a weekly/monthly fee, and you will enjoy the benefits of becoming a union member.

 

HAVING YOUR VOICE HEARD

When people in a workplace join a Union, they elect a spokesperson to represent them. This person may be referred to as a “shop steward”, “staff representative” or “union rep”. In large workplaces a committee may be elected to negotiate with the employer. Unions also have offices and employ full-time professional people to give support and assistance to their members. There people are called full-time officials.

 

IRISH CONGRESS OF TRADE UNIONS

There are many types of unions who look after the interests of different categories of workers. These unions join together in a national umbrella organisation, so that their voice and influence are increased.  The Irish Congress of Trade Unions (referred to as Congress) represents the vast majority of trade Unions.

Throughout the last decade Congress has represented workers in negotiation with Government & Employers at a national level. Congress involvement in this partnership approach has contributed to the recent rapid growth of the Irish economy.

 

CONGRESS YOUTH

The Congress Youth Committee is a group of young union representatives who are campaigning to improve the conditions under which young people live and work.