Jak ask: I’ve just started my first job. My Mum told me to make sure I join the union so when I handed in my paperwork I asked who I should join and the payroll man said they didn’t have a union as the boss made sure they looked after us properly so we didn’t need one. It seems pretty true as everyone is really nice at work so I don’t know who to believe.
Hi Jak. I’m going to tell you a secret. In my first job I wasn’t a member of a Union. I didn’t know much about them and just never thought about joining. Besides I liked the work I was doing and my bosses were really great. Then one day, one of my colleagues found out we were all being underpaid by about $5 an hour and always had been. We figured it was an honest mistake as our bosses were so nice and friendly – so we let them know, expecting them to say sorry and sort it out straight away. I’ll never forget how quickly the niceness stopped. Luckily we all stuck together and we were paid the money we were owed, but we had to fight for it. And that’s when I decided that I would never start a job without joining a union on my very first day at work.
Now I’m not saying your employer isn’t a good person. I’m not saying they will underpay you or not treat you well. But would you never lock your front door because you probably won't get burgled? Unfortunately only takes a change of management or problems with a colleague for a happy workplace to change into a problematic one. And for round about the price of a two of cups of coffee a week wouldn’t you like to have the peace of mind that if things go wrong, or even if you just want a bit of advice you have someone on your side you can call on? And remember, your boss would never even know you've joined unless you tell them. You can even claim it on your tax as a work expense.
Neither is it being disloyal to your employer to join a Union – bosses who are doing the right thing probably couldn't care less if their staff are members. And just supposing they don’t want their staff to join a union, did you also know it’s unlawful to prevent someone from joining a union?
So how do you know who the right union is for your job? Sometimes this can be a bit confusing. That’s why we started the Australian Unions joining service. It’s free and confidential to use; after you’ve given us some information about your job, we’ll liaise with the unions to find out who the right one is and how much the fees are. If you then decide to go ahead we forward your details to your new union and they add you to their membership list. We do all the phoning around for you.
Why not give us a call? Our toll free number is 1300 486 466. Or you can fill out our online form: https://www.australianunions.org.au/join
This has been a pretty long answer to your question, so let’s sum it all up: Your payroll officer is wrong and your mum is 100% right. Just don’t tell her I said so!