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Union solidarity offers risk and reward in the workplace

By Kace O'Neill | |5 minute read
Union Solidarity Offers A Risk And Reward In The Workplace

Joining a union is offered to new employees when they embark on their working journey, yet many are unaware of the potential positive and challenging aspects.


Labour unions have seen a spike in recent years as workers across different industries throughout Australia are creating and joining unions. This means that when new employees stroll into the workplace for the first time, the offer to join is often made to them. However, many are not aware of the potential opportunities and challenges associated with being a union member.

Forbes shared critical factors on how recent employees should navigate being involved in unions within the workplace. Listed are both the benefits and the concerns:

  • Union solidarity poses a risk and a reward: The solidarity necessary for a union’s strength can lead to a paradox where expressing unique opinions or pursuing personal goals feels challenging. The very unity that empowers them also demands a delicate balance between conformity and individuality. New employees must find ways to offer their unique views in a manner that strengthens the collective yet does not compromise their authenticity.
  • Unions often impact the hiring business: Employee unions are known to sometimes operate in nefarious ways with self-serving objectives, so employees should be aware of the “why” behind such a relationship and how it may negatively (and unnecessarily) impact the business employing them. There can be a lot of empty or misguided rah-rah behind a union effort without enough education.
  • Unions may provide things the employer can’t (and vice versa): Employees should fully understand what the union will do for them as opposed to just the employer. They should also be aware of the dues – how much they are and if they are automatically deducted from their pay cheque. The employees should do their due diligence to determine whether or not a union will be the right fit for them in their career journey and not feel pressured to join or not.
  • Unions may cause management conflicts and mandatory parameters: New hires joining an organisation with an employee union should be aware of the potential benefits and challenges. Unions can provide benefits; however, new hires may face challenges such as mandatory union membership, union dues and possible conflicts with management. Educating themselves on the union’s policies and their rights and responsibilities as union members is advisable.

Trade unions offer employees the opportunity to come together and improve working conditions and employee entitlements. Understanding some of the potential pitfalls of joining a union is important, but it’s also important to acknowledge the benefits they offer and the overall work they can do for employees. Understanding the pros and cons of a union membership can help you determine if you might want to join the one for your industry.


Employee engagement

Employee engagement is the level of commitment people have to the company, how enthusiastic they are about their work, and how much free time they devote to it.

Kace O'Neill

Kace O'Neill

Kace O'Neill is a Graduate Journalist for HR Leader. Kace studied Media Communications and Maori studies at the University of Otago, he has a passion for sports and storytelling.