1. People who belong to unions have better wages and conditions than non-union members: - Did you know that union members on average earn 15% more than non-union members!
  2. Unionised workplaces have better health and safety conditions and are more likely to elect representatives who are then legally entitled to monitor health and safety at work.
  3. Unions have a long and proud history of defending the rights of working women, part timers and casuals. It is much more difficult for employers to discriminate against women union members who are aware of their rights. Anti-discrimination laws, paid maternity leave and family leave was won by unions who continue to fight for improved conditions for part time and casual workers.
  4. Overtime rates, annual leave, rostered days off, redundancy agreements, long service leave payments - these are all conditions fought for by unions. Employers do not just hand out entitlements.
  5. Unions collectively and individually support education and training for employees and lobby for on-the-job training for members. The benefits flow onto everyone.
  6. The Union movement has successfully lobbied state and federal governments for better laws to protect low paid workers such as outworkers.
  7. People who are active in their unions learn heaps about their working environment and how it can be improved - they can help fellow workers and have fun at the same time.
  8. In tough economic times, employers will try to cut jobs and increase productivity - it is unions who make sure that big companies don't put profit before people.
  9. Unions help to break down barriers in workplaces - they unite workers and create a community so workers don't feel isolated and fearful of employers.
  10. Unions are involved in important social and community issues. The environment, women's movement, Aboriginal reconciliation, rebuilding East Timor and other overseas aid and rights for refugees are just some of the social justice issues unions become involved with.


Health and safety in the workplace is another important union activity. Every year, hundreds of workers are injured or killed at work and the figure would be much higher without union intervention and the movement's support of trained health and safety representatives.

Apart from being seen as organisations which seek to maintain and improve working conditions for their members, unions also act as vehicles for social change as a whole. These are just some of the community based campaigns unions have become involved with:

  • Anti-conscription campaign in World War I and during the Vietnam War
  • Opposition to nuclear weapons, and visits by nuclear armed or powered ships.
  • The protection of our national resources, including our rain forests.
  • Land rights for Aboriginal people.
  • Improved rights for women.
  • Supporting self determination for the people of East Timor.
  • Highlighting the inhumane treatment of refugees seeking asylum in Australia.


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