A good employer respects their workers and their rights, no matter what. For a thriving workplace, we must see unions as a joint effort between both parties.
Your union is ready to support you, but we know it’s not always that simple
Union members can be a passionate bunch – it comes from how hard we’ve had to work to protect and advocate for workers’ rights. Many employers will understand the merit of this, but we know that joining a union is not understood by every employer.
Thankfully, there are ways to explain the benefits of union membership for yourself and your employer without confronting your boss with a folder of evidence documenting a few hundred years of systemic worker exploitation.
Here are a couple of simple suggestions for starting a conversation about how unions are good for everyone.
‘I don’t want to tell you how to run things, but did you know there’s a bunch of research showing unionised workforces are actually good for business?’
When you join your union, not only do you get the tools, support and confidence you need to thrive in the workplace, but your employer gets all those things too. So although we’re pretty proud of our reputation for securing higher salaries for workers, it’s also about creating more satisfying work.
A 2019 report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) looked at the non-monetary aspects of job quality. Factors like health and safety, working time, training and re-skilling, management practices and workplace inclusivity. They found that the quality of the working environment is higher in countries with well-organised unions and collective agreements.
At the end of the day, good business owners know that happy workers are hard workers. It’s not a stretch to say a better working environment also contributes to higher productivity, less staff turnover, better quality work and a stronger employer brand.
‘We know you care about us and don’t want anyone to get hurt at work. So we want to help you make sure our workplace is as safe as possible – for all of us.’
If your employer doesn’t hear you on this – it could be just about the surest sign it’s time to join your union. For employers interested in the safety of their workers, you can point them to the research that confirms union workplaces are safer than non-union workplaces.
In a 2021 survey of more than a thousand workers from a range of industries, Australian Unions confirmed just how safe unionised workplaces are. We found a positive correlation between having a health and safety rep and better-reported health and safety risks in the workplace.
In fact, 79% of workers with a health and safety rep present said their workplace complies with work health and safety policies. Only 51% of workers without a rep said the same thing.
If your boss still isn’t a fan, you can always give us a call.
It’d be nice if all employers saw reason and encouraged workers to join their union. But, in our imperfect world, that’s not always the case. That’s why we have the law on our side.
Never forget, under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004, employers must, so far as is reasonably practicable, provide and maintain a working environment that is safe and without risks to health – both physical and psychological.
All union members get access to support and legal representation if things go wrong in the workplace. Think of it like a safety net – you pay small, regular membership dues, but you’re covered big time if something goes wrong.
Join your union to ensure safe workplaces for all workers – and if you’re already a member, now you know how to convince your boss to become a member too.